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A Study 

fy the same author 




(Published fy Messrs, George Allen SC Unwin) 

(Published fy Messrs, Methuen 4L Co,) 

(Published bj Messrs. C, A, fVatts^SL Co,) 


(Published fy Messrs. Victor Gollancz) 


(Published bj Messrs, John Lane) 


(Published fy The Hogarth Press) 


(Published fy Messrs. P. S. King) 


(Published by Messrs. Thornton Butterworth) 


A S tu dy 




museiTm STRELT 

First published in 1902 
Second edition 1905 

^ «- 

Made and Printed in Great Britain by Butler & Tanner Ltd., Frome and London 


T his study of modem Imperialism is designed to give 
more precision to a term which is on everybody’s 
lips and which is used to denote the most •powerful move- 
ment in the Airrent politics of the Western world. Though 
Imperialism has been adopted as a more or less conscious 
policy by several European States and threatens to break 
down the political isolation of the United States, Great 
Britain has travelled* so much faster and farther along this 
road as to furnish in h^r fecent career the most profitable 
guidance or warning. 

While an attempt is made to discover and discuss the 
general principles which underlie imperialist policy, the 
illustration of that policy ?s mainly derived from the pro- 
gress of British Imperialism durkig the last generation, and 
proceeds rather by*diagnosis than by historical description. 

In Part I the economic origins of Imperialism are traced, 
w'ith such statistical measure aents of its methods and 
results as are available. 

Part II investigates the theory and the practice of 
Imperialism regarded as a “ mission of civilization,” in 
its effects upon lower ” or alien peoples, and its political 
and moral reactions upon the conduct and character of 
the Western nations engaging in it. 

The book is addressed to the ’intelligence of the minority 
who are content neither to float along the tide of political 
opportunism nor to submit to the shove of some blind 
“ destiny,” but who desire to understand political forces 
in order that they may direct them. 


Those readers who hold that a well-balanced judgment 
consists in always finding as much in favour of any political 
course as against it will be discontented with the treatment 
given here. For the study is distinctively one of social 
pathology, and no endeavour is made to disguise the nature 
of the disease. 

The statistics given in Part I are derived, when the 
source is not stated, from the “ Statistical Abstracts ” 
published by thi: Government, reinforced in some instances, 
by figures derived from the Statesman's Teas Book, 

I am indebted to the editor of the Financial Reform 
Almanac for permission to reproduce the valuable dia- 
gram illustrative of British expenditure from 1870, and 
to the editors of the Speaker^ ihe Qontemporary Review^ 
the Political Science Quarterly^ tnd the British Friend for 
permission to embody in chapters of this volume articles 
printed in these magazines. 

I desire also to express my gratitude to my friends Mr. 
Gilbert Murray and Mr. Herfcfert Rix for their assistance 
in reading most of the prQof-sheets and for many valuable 
suggestions and corrections. * 


August^ 1902. 

In this revised edition, facts and figures have been, as 
far as possible, brought up to date, a number of additions 
and deletions have been made, and in some instances the 
line of argument has been recast. 

September y 1905. 

J. A. H. 



PREFACE ...... V 


Part I 

‘The Economics of Imperialism 


♦ _ 



POPULATION ..... 41 






Part II 

The Politics of 'Imperialism 


IMPERIALISM . . . . .113 


















EMPIRE, 1933-4 .... 369 

n 369 

ni ‘ 370 




1934-35 • . -371 


KINGDOM , . . . . 371 


INTO GREAT BRlT^flN . . , .372 



SEAS 375 


OVERSEAS ...... 375 

XII 376 



DEFENCE, 1934 ..... 37^ 



INDEX ..... 


3 /^ 




A mid tke welter of vague political abstractions to lay 
one’s finger accurately upon any “ ism ” so as to 
pin it down and mark it out by definition seems impossible. 
Where meanings shift so quickly and so subtly, not only 
following changes df thcuight, but often manipulated arti- 
ficially by political pr|ict?tioners so as to obscure, expand, 
or distort, it is idle to demand the same rigour as is expected 
in the exact sciences. A certain broad consistency in its 
relations to other kindred terms is the nearest approach 
to definition which such* a term as Imperialism admits. 
Nationalism, internationalism, colonialism, its three closest 
congeners, are equally elusive, equally shifty, and the 
changeful overlapping of all four demands the closest 
vigilance of students of modern politics. 

During the nineteenth century the struggle towards 
nationalism, or establishment of political union on a basis 
of nationality, was a dominant factor alike in dynastic move- 
ments and as an inner motive in the life of masses of 
population. That struggle, in external politics, sometimes 
took a disruptive form, as in the case of Greece, Servia, 
Roumania, and Bulgaria breaking from Ottoman rule, and 
the detachment of North Italy from her unnatural alliance 
with the Austrian Empire. In other cases it was a unifying 
or a centralising force, enlarging the area of nationality, 
as in the case of Italy and the Pan-Slavist movement in 
B 3 

imperialism: a study 

Russia. Sometimes nationality was taken as a basis of 
federation of States, as in United Germany and in North 

It is true that the forces making for political union 
sometimes went further, making for federal union of diverse 
nationalities, as in the cases of Austria-Hungary, Norway 
and Sweden, and the Swiss Federation. But the general 
tendency was towards welding into large strong national 
unities the loosely related States and provinces with shifting 
attachments and alliances which covered large areas of 
Europe since the break-up of the Empire. This was the 
most definite achievement of the nineteenth century. 
The force of nationality, operating in this work, is quite' 
as visible in the failures to achieve political freedom as 
in the successes ; and the struggles of Irish, Poles, Finns, 
Hungarians, and Czechs to resist the forcible subjection 
to or alliance with stronger neighbours brought out in its 
full vigour the powerful sentiment of nationality. 

The middle of the century was especially distinguished 
by a series of definitely “ nationalist revivals, some of 
which found important interpretation in dynastic changes, 
while others were crushed or collapsed. Holland, Poland, 
Belgium, Norway, the Balkans, formed a vast arena for 
these struggles of national forces. 

The close of the third quarter of the century saw Europe 
fairly settled into large national States or federations of 
States, though in the nature of the case there can be no 
finality, and Italy continued to look to Trieste, as Germany 
still looks to Austria, for the fulfilment of her manifest 

This passion and the dynastic forms it helped to mould 
and animate are largely attributable to the fierce prolonged 
resistance which peoples, both, great and small, were called 
on to maintain against the imperial designs of Napoleon. 


The national spirit of England was roused by the tense- 
ness of the struggle to a self-consciousness it had never 
experienced since “ the spacious days of great Elizabeth.” 
Jena made Prussia into a great nation ; the Moscow 
campaign brought Russia into the field of European 
nationalities as a factor in politics, opening her for the 
first time to the full tide of Western ideas and influences. 

Turning from this territorial and dynastic nationalism 
to the spirit of racial, linguistic, and ecc5homic solidarity 
which has been the underlying motive, we find a still more 
remarkable movement. Local particularism on the one 
hand, vague cosmopolitanism upon the other, yielded to 
* a ferment of nationalist sentiment, manifesting itself 
among the weaker •peoples not merely in a sturdy and 
heroic resistance againjt |)olitical absorption or territorial 
nationalism, but in a passionate revival of decaying customs, 
language, literature and art ; while it bred in more domi- 
nant peoples strange ambitions of national “ destiny ” 
and an attendant spirit of* Chauvinism. 

The true nature and limits* of nationality have never 
been better stated than by J, S. Mill. 

‘‘ A portion of mankind may be said to constitute a 
nation if they are united among themselves by common 
sympathies which do not exist between them and others. 
This feeling of nationality may have been generated by 
various causes. Sometimes it is the effect of identity of 
race and descent. Community of language and community 
of religion greatly contribute to it. Geographical limits 
are one of the causes. But the strongest of all is identity 
of political antecedents, the possession of a national history 
and consequent community of recollections, collective pride 
and humiliation, pleasure and^ regret, connected with the 
same incidents in the past.”^ 

^ Representative Government^ chap. xvi. 


It is a debasement of this genuine nationalism, by 
attempts to overflow its natural banks and absorb the 
near or distant territory of reluctant and unassimilable 
peoples, that marks the passage from nationalism to a spurious 
colonialism on the one hand. Imperialism on the other. 

Colonialism, where it consists in the migration of part 
of a nation to vacant or sparsely peopled foreign lands, 
the emigrants carrying with them full rights of citizenship 
in the mother country, or else establishing local self-govern- 
ment in close conformity with her institutions and under 
her final control, may be considered a genuine expansion 
of nationality, a territorial enlargement of the stock, 
language and institutions of the nation. Few colonies* 
in history have, however, long remained in this condition 
when they have been remote ftom the mother country. 
Either they have severed the connexion and set up for 
themselves as separate nationalities, or they have been 
kept in complete political bondage so far as all major 
processes of government are 'concerned, a condition to 
which the term Imperialism is at least as appropriate as 
colonialism. The only form of distant colony which can 
be regarded as a clear -expansion of nationalism is the self- 
governing British colony in Australasia and Canada, and 
even in these cases local conditions may generate a separate 
nationalism based on a strong consolidation of colonial 
interests and sentiments alien from and conflicting with 
those of the mother nation. In other “ self-governing ” 
colonies, as in Cape Colony and Natal, where the majority 
of whites are not descended from British settlers, and 
where the presence of subject or ‘‘ inferior races in vastly 
preponderating numbers, and alien climatic and other 
natural conditions, mark out a civilization distinct from 
that of the “ mother country,” the conflict between the 
colonial and the imperial ideas has long been present in 



the forefront of the consciousness of politicians. When 
Lord Rosmead spoke of the permanent presence of the 
imperial factor as ‘‘ simply an absurdity/’ and Mr. Rhodes 
spoke of its “ elimination,” they were championing a 
“ colonialism ” which is more certain in the course of time 
to develop by inner growth into a separate “ nationalism ” 
than in the case of the Australasian and Canadian colonies, 
because of the wider divergence, alike of interests and 
radical conditions of life, from the motbtr nation. Our 
other colonics are plainly representative of the spirit of 
Imperialism rather than of colonialism. No considerable 
proportion of the population consists of British settlers 
living with their families in conformity with the social and 
political customs and la^^s of their native land : in most 
instances they form a^ sftiall minority wielding political 
or economic sway over a majority of alien and subject 
people, themselves under the despotic political control of 
the Imperial Government or its local nominees. This, 
the normal condition of a British colony, was well-nigh 
universal in the colonies of other European countries. 
The “ colonies ” \t^hich France and Germany established 
in Africa and Asia were in no real sense plantations of French 
and German national life beyond the seas ; nowhere, not 
even in Algeria, did they represent true European civiliza- 
tion ; their political and economic structure of society is 
wholly alien from that of the mother country. 

Colonialism, in its best sense, is a natural overflow of 
nationality ; its test is the power of colonists to transplant 
the civilization they represent to the new natural and social 
environment in which they find themselves. We must 
not be misled by names ; the “ colonial ” party in Germany 
and France is identical in general aim and method with 
the ‘‘ imperialist ” party in England, and the latter is the 
tiuer title. Professor Seeley well marked the nature of 


Imperialism. ‘‘ When a State advances beyond the limits 
of nationality its power becomes precarious and artificial. 
This is the condition of most empires, and it is the condition 
of our own. When a nation extends itself into other 
territories the chances are that it cannot destroy or com- 
pletely drive out, even if it succeeds in conquering, them. 
When this happens ii has a great and permanent difficulty 
to contend with, for the subject or rival nationalities 
cannot be prop^,riy assimilated, and remain as a permanent 
cause of weakness and danger.”^ • 

The novelty of recent Imperialism regarded as a policy 
consists chiefly in its adoption by several nations. The 
notion of a number of competing empires is essentially 
modern. The root idea of emjpire in the ancient and 
mediaeval world was that of a federation of States, under 
a hegemony, covering in general terms the entire known 
recognized world, such as was held by Rome under the so- 
called pax Romana, When Roman citizens, with full civic 
rights, were found all over the explored world, in Africa 
and Asia, as well as in paul and Britain, Imperialism 
contained a genuine element of internationalism. With 
the fall of Rome this conception of a single empire wielding 
political authority over the civilized world did not dis- 
appear. On the contrary, it survived all the fluctuations 
of the Holy Roman Empire. Even after the definite split 
between the Eastern and Western sections had taken 
place at the close of the fourth century, the theory of a 
single State, divided for administrative purposes, survived. 
Beneath every cleavage or antagonism, and notwithstanding 
the severance of many independent kingdoms and provinces, 
this ideal unity of the empire lived. It formed the conscious 
avowed ideal of Charlemagne, though as a practical ambition 
confined to Western Europfe. Rudolph of Habsburg not 

I ** Expansion of England/" lect. iii. 



merely revived the idea, but laboured to realize it through 
Central Europe, while his descendant Charles V gave a 
very real meaning to the term by gathering under the unity of 
his imperial rule the territories of Austria, Germany, Spain, 
the Netherlands, Sicily, and Naples. In later ages this 
dream of a European Empire animated the policy of Peter 
the Great, Catherine, and Napoleon. Nor is it impossible 
that Kaiser Wilhelm III held a vision of such a world-power. 

Political philosophers in many ages, V^o, Machiavelli, 
Dante, Kanf, have speculated on an empire as the only 
feasible security for peace, a hierarchy of States conforming 
on the larger scale to the feudal order within the single 

Thus empire was identi^ed with internationalism, though 
not always based on a^ cdnception of equality of nations. 
The break-up of the Central European Empire, with the 
weakening of nationalities that followed, evoked a new 
modern sentiment of internationalism which, through the 
eighteenth century, was % flickering inspiration in the 
intellectual circles of European* States. “The eve of the 
French Revolution* found every wise man in Europe — 
Lessing, Kant, Goethe, Rousseau, Lavater, Condorcet, 
Priestley, Gibbon, Franklin: — more of a citizen of the world 
than of any particular country. Goethe confessed that 
he did not know what patriotism was, and was glad to be 
without it. Cultured men of all countries were at home 
in polite society everywhere. Kant was immensely more 
interested in the events of Paris than in the life of Prussia. 
Italy and Germany were geographical expressions ; those 
countries were filled with small States in which there was 
no political life, but in which there was much interest in 
the general progress of culture. The Revolution itself 
was at bottom also human and cosmopolitan. It is, as 
Lamartine said, ‘ a date in the human mind,’ and it is 

imperialism: a study 

because of that fact that all the carping of critics like 
Taine cannot prevent us from seeing that the character of 
the men who led the great movements of the Revolution 
can never obliterate the momentous nature of the Titanic 
strife. The soldiers of the Revolution who, barefooted 
and ragged, drove the insolent reactionaries from the soil 
of France were fighting not merely for some national cause, 
but for a cause dimly perceived to be the cause of general 
mankind. With^ all its crudities and imperfections, the 
idea of the Revolution was that of a conceited body of 
Right in which all men should share.”^ 

This early flower of humane cosmopolitanism was 
destined to wither before the powerful revival of national- 
ism which marked the next centiyy. €ven in the narrow 
circles of the cultured classes it ^asijy passed from a noble 
and a passionate ideal to become a vapid sentimentalism, 
and after the brief flare of 1848 among the continental 
populace had been extinguished, little remained but a dim 
smouldering of the embers. £ven the Socialism which 
upon the continent retains u measure of the spirit of inter- 
nationalism is so tightly confined within ‘the national limits, 
in its struggle with bureaucracy and capitalism, that “ the 
international ” expresses little more than a holy aspiration, 
and has little opportunity of putting into practice the 
genuine sentiments of brotherhood which its prophets have 
always preached. 

Thus the triumph of nationalism seems to have crushed 
the rising hope of internationalism. Yet it would appear 
that there is no essential antagonism between them. A 
true strong internationalism in form or spirit would rather 
imply the existence of powerful self-respecting nationalities 
which seek union on the basis of common national needs 


and interests. Such a historical development would be far 
^W. Clarke, Frogrtssive Rtvieto^ February, 1897. 



more conformable to laws of social growth than the rise of 
anarchic cosmopolitanism from individual units amid the 
decadence of national life. 

Nationalism is a plain highway to internationalism, 
and if it manifests divergence we may well suspect a per- 
version of its nature and its purpose. Such a perversion 
is Imperialism, in which nations trespassing beyond the 
limits of facile assimilation transform the wholesome 
stimulative rivalry of varied national typ« into the cut- 
throat struggle of competing empires. 

Not only does aggressive Imperialism defeat the move- 
ment towards internationalism by fostering animosities 
among competing empires : its attack upon the liberties 
and the existence <rf weaker or lower races stimulates in 
them a corresponding excess of national self-consciousnes^. 
A nationalism that bristles with resentment and is all 
astrain with the passion of self-defence is only less perverted 
from its natural genius than the nationalism which glows 
with the animus of greed* and self-aggrandisement at the 
expense of others. From this aspect aggressive Imperialism 
is an artificial stiihulation of nationalism in peoples too 
foreign to be absorbed and too compact to be permanently 
crushed. We welded Africanderdom into just such a 
strong dangerous nationalism, and we joined with other 
nations in creating a resentful nationalism until then 
unknown in China. The injury to nationalism in both 
cases consists in converting a cohesive, pacific internal 
force into an exclusive, hostile force, a perversion of the 
true power and use of nationality. The worst and most 
certain result is the retardation of internationalism. The 
older nationalism was primarily an inclusive sentiment ; 
its natural relation to the same sentiment in another 
people was lack of sympathy, not open hostility ; there 
was no inherent antagonism to prevent nationalities from 



growing and thriving side by side. Such in the main was 
the nationalism of the earlier nineteenth century, and the 
politicians of Free Trade had some foundation for their 
dream of a quick growth of effective, informal inter- 
nationalism by peaceful, profitable intercommunication of 
goods and ideas among nations recognizing a just harmony 
of interests in free peoples. 

The overflow of nationalism into imperial channHs 
quenched all such hopes. While co-existent nationalities 
are capable of mutual aid involving no directs antagonism 
of interests, co-existent empires following each its own 
imperial career of territorial and industrial aggrandisement 
are natural necessary enemies. The full nature of this 
antagonism on its economic side is noti intelligible without 
a close analysis of those conditfons of modern capitalist 
production which compel an ever keener “ fight for markets,” 
but the political antagonism is obvious. 

The scramble for Africa and Asia virtually recast the 
policy of all European nations, dvoked alliances which cross 
all natural lines of sympathy and historical association, 
drove every continental nation to consuihe an ever-growing 
share of its material and human resources upon military 
and naval equipment, drew the great new power of the 
United States from its isolation into the full tide of 
competition ; and, by the multitude, the magnitude, and 
the suddenness of the issues it had thrown on to the stage 
of politics, became a constant agent of menace and of 
perturbation to the peace and progress of mankind. The 
new policy exercised the most notable and formidable 
influence upon the conscious statecraft of the nations 
which indulge in it. While producing for popular con- 
sumption doctrines of national destiny and imperial missions 
of civilization, contradictory in their true import, but 
subsidiary to one another as supports of popular Imperialism, 



it evoked a calculating, greedy type of Machiavellianism, 
entitled “ real-politik ” in Germany, where it was made, 
which remodelled the whole art of diplomacy and erected 
national aggrandisement without pity or scruple as the 
conscious motive force of foreign policy. Earth hunger 
and the scramble for markets were responsible for the 
openly avowed repudiation of treaty obligations which 
Gtfijnany, Russia, and England had not scrupled to defend. 
The sliding scale of diplomatic language, hinterland, sphere 
of interest, sphere of influence, paramountcy, suzerainty, 
protectorate, veiled or open, leading up to acts of forcible 
seizure or annexation which sometimes continue to be 
hidden under “ lease,” “ rectification of frontier,” “ con- 
cession,” and the like, was the invention and expression of 
this cynical spirit of In^perialism. While Germany and 
Russia were perhaps more open in their professed adoption 
of the material gain of their country as the sole criterion of 
public conduct, other nations were not slow to accept the 
standard. Though the corfduct of nations in dealing with 
one another has commonly beon determined at all times 
by selfish and shottsighted considerations, the conscious, 
deliberate adoption of this standard at an age when the 
intercourse of nations and their interdependence for all 
essentials of human life grow ever closer, is a retrograde step 
fraught with grave perils to the cause of civilization. 





Q uibbles about the modem meaning of the term 
Imperialism are best resolved by refejpnce to concrete 
facts in the^ history of the last sixty years. During that 
period a number of European nations, Great Britain being 
first and foremost, annexed or otherwise asserted political 
sway over vast portions of Africa and Asia, and over numerous 
islands in the Pacific and elsewhere. The extent to which 
this policy of expansion %vas carried on, and in particular 
the enormous size and •the peculiar character of the British 
acquisitions, were not adequately realized even by those 
who pay some attention to Imperial politics. 

The following lists, giving the area and, where possible, 
the population of the new acquisitions, are designed to 
give definiteness t(Xthe term Imperialism. Though derived 
from official sources, they do not, however, profess strict 
accuracy. The sliding scale of political terminology along 
which no-man’s land, or hinterland, passes into some kind 
of definite protectorate is often applied so as to conceal 
the process ; “ rectification ” of a fluid frontier is continually 
taking place ; paper “ partitions ” of spheres of influence 
or protection in Africa and Asia are often obscure, and in 
some cases the area and the population are highly speculative. 

In a few instances it is possible that portions of territory 
put down as acquired after 1870 may have been ear-marked 
by a European Power at some earlier date. But carfe is 
taken to include only such tefritories as have come within 
this period under the definite political control of the Power 


imperialism: a study 

to which they are assigned. The figures in the case of 
Great. Britain are so startling as to call for a little further 
interpretation, I have thought it right to add to the 
recognized list of colonies and protectorates^ the “ veiled 
Protectorate,” of Egypt, with its vast Soudanese claim, 
the entire territories assigned to Chartered Companies, 
and the native or feudatory States in India which acknow- 
ledged our paramountcy by the admission of a British 
Agent or other official endowed with real political control. 

All these lands are rightly accredited to» the British 
Empire, and if our past policy is still pursued, the iijtensive 
as distinct from the extensive Imperialism will draw them 
under an ever-tightening grasp.* 

In a few other instances, as, for exaiiaple, in West Africa, 
countries are included in this list where some small dominion 
had obtained before 1870, but where the vast majority of 
the present area of the colony is of more recent requisition. 
Any older colonial possession thus included in Lagos or 
Gambia is, however, far more' than counter-balanced by 
the increased area of the Gold Coast Colony, which is not 
included in this list, and which grew from 29,000 square 
miles in 1873 39 >ooo square miles in 1893. 

The list is by no means complete. It takes no account 
of several large regions which passed under the control of 
our Indian Government as native or feudatory States, but 
of which no statistics of area or population, even approxi- 
mate were available. Such are the Shan States, the Burma 
Frontier, and the Upper Burma Frontier, the districts of 
Chitral, Bajam, Swat, Waziristan, which came under our 

^ The Statistical Abstract for British Empire in 1903 (Cd. 2395 , pub. 1905), 
gives an area of 9,631,100 sq. miles and a population of 360,646,000. 

* The situation is that of 1905. The transfer of large regions from the control 
of our Foreign Office to that of our Ct^onial Office is a register of the tightening 
process. Northern and Southern Nigeria underwent this change in 1900, the 
£. African Protectorate, Uganda, and Somaliland in 1904. 



Date of 


Square Miles. 


Eukopi — 

Cyprus .... 





Africa — 

Zaxizibar and Pemba . 

1888 \ 


C 200,000 

East Africa Protectorate . 

1895 / 

\ 2,500,000 

Uganda Protectorate 





. Somali Coast Protectorate . 



British Central Africa Pro- 



4*. *7 


Lagos • * • 

to 1899 



Gambia .... 

to 1888 



Ashantee .... 




Niger Coast Protectorate 


r 400,000 

1 to 



Egypt . . . ^ . 


L 500,000 



Egyptian Soudan 

^ 1882 




Griqualand West 



Zululand .... 




British Bechuanaland 




Bechuanaland Protectorate 




Transkei .... 






4,* 55 







Griqualand East 



British South Africa Charter j 








Orange River Colony 




Asia — 

Hong Kong (littoral) 








Socotra .... 




Upper Burma . 








Sikkim .... 


2, 818 


Rajputana (States) . 

r 128,022 


Burma (States) . . > 

since 1881 

J 62,661 


Jammu and Kashmir . J 

L 80,000 


Malay Protected States 




North Borneo Co. 




North Borneo Protectorate. 




Sarawak .... 



$ 00,000 

British New Guinea . 




Fiji Islands 






“ sphere of influence ’’ in 1893, and have been since taken 
under a closer protectorate. The increase of British India 
itself between 1871 and 1891 amounted to an area of 
104,993 square miles, with a population of 25,330,000, 
while no reliable measurement of the formation of new 
native States within that period and since is available. 
Many of the measurements here given are in round numbers, 
indicative of their uncertainty, but they are taken, wjhtere- 
ever available^! from official publications of the Colonial 
Office, corroborated or supplemented from the StatesmatCs 
Tear Book. They will by no means comprise the full 
tale of our expansion during the thirty years, for many 
enlargements made by the several colonies themselves are 
omitted. But taken as they stand they make a formidable 
addition to the growth of an Eitipire whose nucleus is only 
120,000 square miles, with 40,000,000 population. 

For so small a nation to add to its domains in the course 
of a single generation an area of 4,754,000 square miles^ 
with an estimated population of 88,000,000, is a historical 
fact of great significance. « 

Accepting Sir Robert Giffen’s estimate* of the size of 
our Empire (including Egypt and the Soudan) at about 
13,000,000 square miles, with a population of some 400 
to 420 millions (of whom about 50,000,000 are of British 
race and speech), we find that one- third of this Empire, 
containing quite one-fourth of the total population of the 
Empire, was acquired within the last thirty years of the 
nineteenth century. This is in tolerably close agreement 
with other independent estimates.* 

^ Sir R. Giflen gives the figures as 4,204,690 square miles for the period 

• “ The Relative Growth of the Component Parts of the Empire," a paper 
read before the Colonial Institute, January, 1898. 

* See table, ** British Colonies and Dependencies," on page 20. 



The character of this Imperial expansion is clearly 
exhibited in the list of new territories. 

Though, for convenience, the year 1870 has been taken 
as indicative of the beginning of a conscious policy of 
Imperialism, it will be evident that the movement did not 
attain its full impetus until the middle of the eighties. 
The vast increase of territory, and the method of whole- 
sale. partition which assigned to us great tracts of African 
land, may be dated from about 1884. ©Within fifteen 
years some three and three-quarter millions of square miles 
were added to the British Empire.^ 

Nor did Great Britain stand alone in this enterprise. 
The leading characteristic of that modern Imperialism, the 
competition of rival# Empires, was the product of this same 
period. The close of the Franco-German war marked the 
beginning of a new colonial policy in France and Germany, 
destined to take effect in the next decade. It was not 
unnatural that the newly-founded German Empire, 
surrounded by powerful enemies and doubtful allies, and 
perceiving its more adventurous youth drawn into the 
United States and 6ther foreign lands, should form the idea 
of a colonial empire. During the seventies a vigorous 
literature sprang up in advocacy of the policy* which took 
shape a little later in the powerful hands of Bismarck. 
The earliest instance of official aid for the promotion of 
German commerce abroad occurred in 1880 in the Govern- 
ment aid granted to the “ German Commercial and Planta- 
tion Association of the Southern Seas.” German connexion 
with Samoa dates from the same year, but the definite 
advance of Germany upon its Imperialist career began in 
1884, ^ policy of African protectorates and annexations 

^ Libgralism and tbe Empire^ p. 341. f. 

, * Fabri*t Bedarf Deutschland der CoUmien wai the moat vigorous and popular 




British Coloniu and Dependincies, 1900.* 


Square Miles. 



European Dependencies 

Asiatic Dependencies — 

India (1,800,258 square miles, 287,223,431 
inhabitants) ..... 
Others (27,321 square miles, 4,363,257 
inhabitants) ..... 
African Colonies .... 

American ColoiRes .... 

Australasian Colonies 


j- *.827,579 



3 ,> 75 , 84 o , 









Protectorates — 

Asia ...... 

Africa (including Egypt, Egyptian Soudan) 
Oceania . . . . . ^ 

1 20,400 
• 800 




Total Protectorates 



Grand total .... 



of Oceanic islands. During the next fifteen years she 
brought under her colonial sway about 1,000,000 square 
miles, with an estimated population of 14,000,000. Almost 
the whole of this territory was tropical, and the white 
population formed a total of a few thousands. 

Similarly in France a great revival of the old colonial 
spirit took place in the early eighties, the most influential 
of the revivalists being the eminent economist, M. Paul 
Leroy-Beaulieu. The extension of empire in Senegal and 
Sahara in 1880 was followed next year by the annexation 
of Tunis, and France was soon actively engaged in the 
scramble for Africa in 1884, while at the same time she 
was fastening her rule on Tonking and Laos in Asia. Her 

* Compiled from Morris’ History of Colonization^ vol. ii, p. 87, and Statesman's 
Tear Book^ 1900. Figures for 1933-4 are given in the Appendix, p. 369. 



acquisitions between 1880 and 1900 (exclusive of the 
extension of New Caledonia and its dependencies) amounted 
to an area of over three and a half million square miles, with 
a native population of some 37,000,000, almost the whole 
tropical or sub-tropical, inhabited by lower races and 
incapable of genuine French colonization. 

Italian aspirations took similar shape from 1880 onwards, 
though the disastrous experience of the Abyssinian expedi- 
tions gave a check to Italian Imperialism. Rer possessions 
in East Africa ^re confined to the northern colony of Eritrea 
and the protectorate of Somaliland.^ 

Of the other European States, two only, Portugal* and 
Belgium, enter directly into the competition ot this new 
Imperialism. The African arrangements of 1884-6 assigned 
to Portugal the large district of Angola on the Congo Coast, 
while a large strip of East Africa passed definitely under 
her political control in 1891. The anomalous position 
of the great Congo Free State, ceded to the King of Belgium 
in 1883, and growing since then by vast accretions, must 
be regarded as involving Belgium in the competition for 
African empire. 

Spain may be said to have definitely retired from imperial 
competition. The large and important possessions bf 
Holland in the East and West Indies, though involving 
her in imperial politics to some degree, belong to older 
colonialism : she takes no part in the new imperial expansion. 

Russia, the only active expansionist country of the 
North, stood alone in the character of her imperial growth, 
which differed from other Imperialism in that it was 
principally Asiatic in its achievements and proceeded by 
direct extension of imperial boundaries, partaking to a 

' In the year 1905. 

* Portugal's true era of Imperialism irf Africa, however, dates back two 
centuries. See Theal’s fascinating story of the foundation of a Portuguese 
Empire in Beginnings of South African History (Fisher Unwin). 


imperialism: a study 

Urger extent than in the other cases of a regular colonial 
policy of settlement for purposes of agriculture and industry. 
It is, however, evident that Russian expansion, though 
of a more normal and natural order than that which 
characterises the new Imperialism, came definitely into 
contact and into competition with the claims and aspirations 
of the latter in Asia, and was advancing rapidly during the 
period which is the object of our study. • * 

The entrance of the powerful and progressive nation 
of the United States of America upon ImpAialism by the 
annexation of Hawaii and the taking over of the relics of 
ancient S^nish empire not only added a new formidable 
competitor for trade and territory, but changed and 
complicated the issues. As the^focuf of political attention 
and activity shifted more to the; Pacific States, and the 
commercial aspirations of America were more and more 
set upon trade with the Pacific islands and the Asiatic 
coast, the same forces which were driving European States 
along the path of territorial expansion seemed likely to act 
upon the United States, leading her to a virtual abandon- 
ment of the principle of American isolation which hitherto 
dominated her policy. 

The comparative table of colonisation (page 369), compiled 
from the Statesman's Tear Book for 1900 by Mr. H. C. 
Morris,^ marked the expansion of the political control 
of Western nations in 1905.* 

The political nature of British Imperialism may be 
authoritatively ascertained by considering the governmental 
relations which the newly annexed territories have held 
with the Crown. 

OfficiaDy,* British ** colonial possessions ” fall into three 

History tf CnhmisMtioH^^cA, ii, p. 318 (Mftcmillan & Co.). 

■ Figures for the years 1 934-5 are given in the Appendix, p. 369. 

• See the “ Colonial Office List,** 




Area. Square Bfiles. 











United Kingdom 

Germany . 
Portugal . 



Denmark . 




U.S.A. . 













3 >SS 7 .o<» 






» 43.*77 









5 *,* 79 , 9 oi 



* 7,56*632 
4 *,* 44 , 8 ii 








35 »” 5 » 7 i* 











*i,» 73 .* 5 * 



classes — (i) ‘‘ Crown colonies, in which the Crown has 
the entire control of legislation, while the administration 
is carried on by public officers ^under the control of the 
Home Government*; (2) colonies possessing representative 
institutions, but not responsible government, in which 
the Crown has no more than a veto on legislation, but the 
Home Government retains the control of public affairs ; 
(3) colonies possessing representative institutions and respon- 
sible government, in which the Crown has only a veto on 
legislation, and the Home Government has no control over 
any officer except the Governor.” 

Now, of the thirty-nine separate areas which were annexed 
by Great Britain after 1870 as colonies or protectorates, 
not a single one ranks in class 3 and the Transvaal alone in 
class 2. 

The new Imperialism established no single British colony 
endowed with responsible self-government. Nor, with the 



imperialism: a study 

exception of the three new States in Sout^ Africa, where 
white settlers lived in some numbers, is it seriously pretended 
that any of these annexed territories was being prepared 
and educated for representative, responsible self-govern- 
tnent ; and even in these South African States there is 
no serious intention, either on the part of the Home 
Government or of the colonists, that the majority of the 
inhabitants shall control the government. / 

It is true thf.t some of these areas enjoy a measure of 
self-government, as protectorates or as feudatory States, 
under their own native princes. But all these in major 
matters of policy are subject to the absolute rule of the 
British Government, or of some British ofiicial, while the 
general tendency is towards drawing ^e reins of arbitrary 
control more tightly over protectorates, converting them 
into States which are in substance, though not always in 
name. Crown colonies. With the exception of a couple of 
experiments in India, the tendency everywhere has been 
towards a closer and more drastic imperial control over the 
territories that have bee^i annexed, transforming pro- 
tectorates, company rule, and spheres? of influence into 
definite British States of the Crown colony order. 

This is attributable, not to any greed of tyranny on the 
part of the Imperial Government, but to the conditions 
imposed upon our rule by considerations of climate and 
native population. Almost the whole of this new territory 
is tropical, or so near to the tropics as to preclude genuine 
colonisation of British settlers, while in those few districts 
where Europeans can work and breed, as in parts of South 
Africa and Egypt, the preoccupation of the country by 
large native populations of “ lower races ” precludes any 
considerable settlement of British workers and the safe 
bestowal of the full self-gbvernment which prevails in 
Australasia and Canada. 



The same is true to an even more complete extent of 
the Imperialism of other continental countries. The new 
Imperialism nowhere extended the political and civil 
liberties of the 'mother country to any part of the vast 
territories which, after 1870, fell under the government of 
Western civilized Powers. Politically, the new Imperialism 
was an expansion of autocracy. 

T'aking the growth of Imperialism as illustrated in the 
expansion of Great Britain and of the chief continental 
Powers, we find the distinction between Imperialism and 
colonisation closely borne out by facts and figures, and 
warranting the following general judgments : — 

First — ^Almost the whole of this imperial expansion was 
occupied with the political absorption of tropical or sub- 
tropical lands in which white men will not settle with their 

Second — Nearly all the lands were thickly peopled by 
‘‘ lower races.” 

Thus this recent imperial expansion stands entirely 
distinct from the colonization pf sparsely peopled lands 
in temperate zones, "where white colonists carry with them 
the modes of government, the industrial and other arts 
of the civilization of the mother country. The ‘‘ occupa- 
tion ” of these new territories was comprised in the presence 
of a small minority of white men, officials, traders, and 
industrial organisers, exercising political and economic sway 
over great hordes of population regarded as inferior and as 
incapable of exercising any considerable rights of self- 
government, in politics or industry. 






T he absorption of so large a proportion of public 
interest, energy, blood and money in seeking to 
procure colonial possessions and foreign markets would 
seem to indicate that Great Britain obtained her chief 
livelihood by external trade. Now this was not the case. 
Large as was our foreign and coloniaj trade in volume and 
in value, essential as was much of it to our national well- 
being, nevertheless it furnished a*small proportion of the 
total industry of the nation. 

According to the conjectural estimate of the Board of 
Trade ‘‘ the proportion of the total labour “of the British 
working classes which wa,s concerned with the production 
of commodities for export (including^ the making of the 
instruments of this production and their transport to the 
ports) was between one-fifth and one-sixth of the whole.’’ ^ 
If we suppose the profits, salaries, etc., in connexion 
with export trade to be at the same level with those derived 
from home trade, we may conclude that between one-fifth 
and one-sixth of the income of the nation comes from the 
production and carriage of goods for export trade. 

Taking the higher estimate of the magnitude of foreign 
trade, we should conclude that it furnished employment 
to one-fifth of our industrial factors, the other four-fifths 
being employed in supplying home markets. 

But this must not be taktn as a measure of the net value 

* Cd. 1761, p. 361. 



of foreign trade to dur nation, or of the amount of loss 
that would have been sustained by a diminution of our 
foreign markets. We are not entitled to assume that a 
tariff-policy or some other restrictive policy on the part of 
foreign nations which gradually reduced our export trade 
would imply an equivalent loss of national income, and of 
employment of capital and labour in Great Britain. The 
assumption, sometimes made, that home demand is a fixed 
amount, and that any commodities made ki excess of this 
amount muse find a foreign market, or remain unsold, is 
quite unwarranted. There is no necessary limit to the 
quantity of capital and labour that can be employed in 
supplying the home markets, provided the effective demand 
for the goods that ajje produced is so distributed that every 
increase of production stimulates a corresponding increase 
of consumption. 

Under such conditions a gradual loss of foreign markets 
would drive more capital and labour into industries sup- 
plying home markets ; the goods this capital and labour 
produced would be sold and consumed at home. Under 
such circumstances*some loss would normally be sustained, 
because it could be reasonably assumed that the foreign 
market that was lost was a more profitable one than the 
new' home market which took its place ; but that loss would 
certainly be much smaller than the aggregate of the value 
of trade thus transferred ; it would, in fact, be measured 
by the reduction in profit, and perhaps in wages, attending 
the substitution of a less remunerative home market for a 
more remunerative foreign market. 

This argument, of course, does not imply that Great 
Britain could dispense with her external markets, and be 
no great sufferer in trade and income. Some considerable 
foreign markets, as we know, 4re an economic necessity to 
her, in order that by her exports she may purchase foods and 


imperialism: a study 

materials which she cannot produce, or can only produce at 
a great disadvantage. 

This fact makes a considerable external market a matter 
of vital importance to us. But outside the limit of this 
practical necessity the value of our foreign markets must 
rightly be considered to be measured, not by the aggregate 
value of the goods we sell abroad, but by the superior 
gain from selling them abroad as compared with seUhig 
them (or corresponding quantities of other goods) at home. 
To assume that if these goods are not sold abroad, neither 
they nor their substitutes could be sold, even at lower 
prices, in the home market, is quite unwarranted. - There 
is no natural and necessary limit to the proportion of the 
national product which can be sold and consumed at home. 
It is, of course, preferable to sell goods abroad where higher 
profit can be got by doing so, but the net gain to national 
industry and income must be measured not by the value of 
the trade done, but by its more profitable nature. 

These reflections are required'^ to make us realize (i) that 
the importance of externa*! trade is not rightly measured 
by the proportion its volume and value* bear at any given 
time to those of home trade ; and (z) that it is by no means 
essential to the industrial progress of a nation that her 
external trade should under all conditions keep pace with 
her home trade. 

When a modern nation has attained a high level of 
development in those industrial arts which are engaged in 
supplying the first physical necessaries and conveniences of 
the population, an increasing proportion of her productive 
energies will begin to pass into higher kinds of industry, 
into the transport services, into distribution, and into 
professional, official and personal services, which produce 
goods and services less adapted on the whole for international 
trade than those simpler goods which go to build the lower 




Trade (in 

Value per 
Head of 


Trade (in 

Value per 
Head of 

£ >■ i- 

£ i- 










1887 . 










1919 3 

Average . 


18 4 s 








i %77 













*k8 16 6 

Average . 


18 14 10 























20 1 3 

Average . 


19 15 6 

Figures for the yean i9io«i934 are given in the Appendix, p. 370. 

stages of a civilization.^ If this is true, it would appear that, 
whereas up to a certain point in the development of national 
life foreign trade will grow rapidly, after that point a 
decline, not in absolute size or growth but in relative size 
and growth, will take place. 

There is some reason to hold that Great Britain had, 
in 1905, reached an industrial level where external trade, 
though still important, will be relatively less important in 
her national economy. 

Between 1870 and 1900, as the above table shows, the 

' See Contemporary Review^ August, 1905, in which the author iUustretes this 
tendency by the statistics of occupations in various nations. 


imperialism: a study 

value of our foreign trade had not grown so fast as our 
population. Whereas upon the generally accepted estimate 
the growth of the income of the nation during these three 
decades was from about j^i, 200, 000,000 to 1,750,000,000, 
yielding an increase of about 10 per cent, in the income 
per head of the population, the value of foreign trade per 
head had positively shrunk. 

Although the real increase in volume of external trade 
was considerable when the general fall of prices after 1870 
is taken into account, it remains quite evident* that neither 
volume nor value of external trade had kept pace during 
this period with volume and value of internal trade. ^ 

Next, let us inquire whether the vast outlay of energy 
and money upon imperial expansion* was attended by a 
growing trade within the Empire as compared with foreign 
trade. In other words, does the policy tend to make us 
more and more an* economically self-sufficing Empire ? 
Does trade follow the flag ? 

The figures in the table facing represent the proportion 
which our trade with our colonies and possessions bears 
to our foreign trade during the last half of the nineteenth 

A longer period is here taken as a basis of comparison, 
in order to bring out clearly the central truth, viz., that 
Imperialism had no . appreciable influence whatever on the 
determination of our external trade until the protective and 
preferential measures taken during and after the Great War. 
Setting aside the abnormal increase of exports to our 
colonies in 1900-1903 due to the Boer War, we perceive 
that the proportions of our external trade had changed 

^ The four years subsequent to 1899 show a considerable increase in value of 
foreign trade, the average value per head for 1900-1903 working out at ,(^21 zs. $d. 
But this is abnormal, due partly to s[^cial colonial and foreign expenditure in 
connexion with the Boer War, partly to the general rise of prices as compared 
with the earlier level. 



Percentages of Total Values. 

Annual Averages. 

Imports into 

Great Britain from 

Exports from 

Great Britain to 


































1880—1884 0 

























This table ((Sd. 1761 p. refers to merchandise only, excluding bullion. 
From the export trade, ships and boats (not recorded prior to 1897) are excluded. 
In exports British produce alone « included. Figures for the years up to 1934 
arc given in the Appendix, p. 371. 

very little during the half century ; colonial imports 
slightly fell, colonial exports* slightly rose, during the last 
decade, as compared with the J>eginning of the period. 
Although since 1870 such vast additions have been made 
to British possessions, involving a corresponding reduction 
of the area of “ Foreign Countries,” this imperial expansion 
was attended by no increase in the propbrtions of intra- 
imperial trade as represented in the imports and exports of 
Great Britain during the nineteenth century. 

From the standpoint of the recent history of British 
trade there is no support for the dogma that “ Trade follows 
the Flag,” So far we have examined the question from the 
point of view of Great Britain. But if we examine the 
commercial connexion between Great Britain and the 
colonies from the colonial standpoint, asking whether the 
external trade of our colonies ttnds to a closer union with 
the mother country what result do we reach ? 


imperialism: a study 

The elaborate statistical investigation o£ Professor Alleyne 
Ireland into the trade of our colonial possessions strikes a 
still heavier blow at the notion that trade follows the flag. 
Taking the same period, he establishes the following two 
facts : — 

The total import trade of all the British colonies and 
possessions has increased at a much greater rate than the 
imports from the United Kingdom.” “ The total e3i^orts 
of aU the Bi<tish colonies and possessions have increased 
at a much greater rate than the exports to the United 

The following table* shows the gradual decline in the 
importance to the colonies of the commercial connexion 
with Great Britain since 1 872-75, » as illustrated in the 
proportion borne in the value of their exports from and 
their imports to Great Britain as compared with the value 
of the total imports and exports of the British colonies and 
possessions : — ^ 

Four-Yearly Averages. 

Percentages of 
Imports into 
Colonies, See., from 
Great Britain. 

Percentages of 
Exports from 
Colonies, &c., into 
Great Britain. 

1856-1859 .... 



1860-1863 .... 



1864-1867 .... 



1868-1871 .... 


1872-1875 .... 


1876-1879 ... ", 


1880-1883 .... 


1884-1887 .... 


1888-1891 .... 


1892-1895 . . ... 




> Tropiced CoUmiatation, Page 125. 

• Founded on the tablet of Professor Ireland (T topical Colanixation^ pp. 98-101), 
and revised up to date from figures in the Statistical Abstract of Colonid 
Possessions, Cd. 307. e 

^ Figures for the yean 1913-4, 1924^-9) ^ 933^4 S^ven in the Appendix, 
PP- 37 »~ 3 - 


commercial value of imperialism 

In other words, while Great Britain's dependence on 
her Empire for trade was stationary, the dependence of her 
Empire upon her for trade was rapidly diminishing. 

The actual condition of British trade with foreign 
countries and with the chief groups of the colonics respec- 
tively may be indicated by the following statement^ for the 
• year ending December, 1901 : — 

Impwts from. 










Foreign Countries . 







British India . . . 





Australasia .... 





Canada . . . * . 





British South Africa 





Other British Poiiessioni . 





Total .... 





It is thus clearly seen that while imperial expansion 
was attended by no increase in the value of our trade with 
our colonies and dependencies, a considerable increase in 
the value of our trade with foreign nations had taken 
place. Did space permit, it could be shown that the 
greatest increase of our foreign trade was with that group 
of industrial nations whom we regard as our industrial 
enemies, and whose political enmity we were in danger of 
arousing by our policy of expansion — France, Germany, 
Russia, and the United States. 

One more point of supreme significance in its bearing 
on the new Imperialism remains. We have already drawn 

' “ Cobden Club Leaflet,” 123, by HaroM Cox. Figures for the year 1934-5 
arc given in the Appendix, p. 371. 




attention to the radical distinction between genuine 
colonialism and Imperialism. This distinction is strongly 
marked in the statistics of the progress of our commerce 
with our foreign possessions. 

The results of an elaborate investigation by Professor 
Flux^ into the size of our trade respectively with India, 
the self-governing colonies and the other colonies may be 
presented in the following simple table : — * j 


Percentages of 
imports from 
Great Britain. 

Percentage of 
• Exports to 

Great Britain. 





India ..... 

^V 9 



Self-governing Colonies . 




Other Colonies 






Professor Flux thus summarises the chief results of his 
comparisons : “ The great source of growth of Britain’s 
colonial trade is very clearly shown to be the growth of 
trade with the colonies to which self-government has been 
granted. Their foreign trade has nearly doubled, and 
the proportion of it which is carried on with the mother 
country has increased from about 56^ per cent, to 65 per cent. 

Later statistics® distinguishing British trade with India, 
the self-governing colonies and other colonies and possessions 
impress the same lesson from the standpoint of Great 
Britain in an even more striking manner. 

' “ The Flag and Trajdc,” Journal of Statistical Society, September, 1899. 
Vol. Ixii, pp. 496-98. 

* Figures for the years 1913-4, 1924-9 and 1933-4 are given in the Appendix, 
p. 37 *- 

* Statistical Abstract for the British Empire from 1889 to 1903. (Cd. 2395 
pp. 25-28). Full tables of the Expert and Import trade of Great Britain with 
the several parts of the Empire for the years 1904 to 1934, are given in the 
Appendix, pp. 372-3. 



Valui or Imports into Great Britain prom the Several Parts or the 
Empire (000,000 Omitted), 
















































>ther pos^ssions 
















Value or Exports prom Great Britain into the SEvxRi^ Parts or the 
• Empire 











4 k 





























Other possessions 




X4 ! 






X7 i 





These tables show that whereas the import and the 
export trade with our self-governing colonies exhibited a 
large advance, our import trade •alike with India and the 
“ other possessions was virtually stagnant, while our 
export trade with these two parts shows a very slight and 
very irregular tendency to increase. 

Now the significance of these results for the study of 
modern Imperialism consists in the fact that the whole 
trend of this movement was directed to the acquisition of 
lands and populations belonging not to the self-governing 
order but to the “ other possessions.” Our expansion was 
almost wholly concerned with the acquisition of tropical 
and sub-tropical countries peopled by races to whom we 
have no serious intention of giving self-government. 
With the exception of the Transvaal and the Orange River 

1 Fall-off in imports from self-governing cobnies I900-z is due entirely to 
stoppage in gold import# from South Africa. 


imperialism: a study 

Colony, none of our acquisitions since 1870 belonged, even 
prospectively, to the self-governing group, and even in the 
case of the two South African states, the prospective self- 
government was confined to a white minority of the 
population. The distinctive feature of modern Imperialism, 
from the commercial standpoint, is that it adds to our 
empire tropical and sub-tropical regions with which oui ' 
trade is small, precarious and unprogressive. 

The only cctisiderable increase of our import trade since 
1884 is from our genuine colonies in Austialasia, North 
America, and Cape Colony ; the trade with India has been 
stagnant, while that with our tropical colonies in Africa 
and the West Indies has been in most cases irregular and 
dwindling. Our export trade exhil^ts the same general 
character, save that Australia and Canada show a growing 
resolution to release themselves from dependence upon 
British manufactures ; the trade with the tropical colonies, 
though exhibiting some increase, is very small and very 

As for the territories acquired under the new Imperialism, 
except in one instance, no serious attempt to regard them 
as -satisfactory business assets is possible. 

The following table (page 39) gives the official figures of 
the value of our import and export trade with our tropical 
and sub-tropical possessions for the beginning of the present 
century. Bullion and specie are included in both accounts. 

The entire volume of our< export trade with our new 
protectorates in Africa, Asia and the Pacific amounted to 
not more than some nine millions sterling, of which more 
than six millions took place with the Malay Protected 
States, and was largely through traffic with the Far East. 
The entire volume of the import trade consisted of about 
eight millions sterling, half of which is with the same Malay 
States. At whatever figure we estimate the profits in this 



British Trade with New Possessions.* 

Imports from 

Exports to 





Zanzibar Protectorate . , . 

British East Africa Protectorate 

1 14,088 


(including Uganda) 



Somaliland ..... 



Southern Nigeria Protectorate . 



Northern Nigeria Protectorate . 




641,203 • 


Gambia ..... 



British North Borneo 



Malay Protected States . 






British Solomon Islands Protectorate 


Gilbert and Ellice Islands Protectorate 




British New Guinea 

Leeward Islands .it 



Windward Islands .... 



3 o 5.*»4 

trade, it forms an utterly insignificant part of our national 
income, while the expenses connected directly and indirectly 
with the acquisition, administration and defence of these 
possessions must swallow an immeasurably larger sum. 

Apart from its quantity, the quality of the new tropical 
export trade was of the lowest, consisting for the most part, 
as the analysis of the Colonial Office shows, of the cheapest 
textile goods of Lancashire, the cheapest metal goods of 
Birmingham and Sheffield, and large quantities of gun-- 
powder, spirits, and tobacco. 

Such evidence leads to the following conclusions bearing 
upon the economics of the new Imperialism. First, the 
external trade of Great Britain bore a small and diminishing 
proportion to its internal industry and trade. Secondly, 
of the external trade, that with British possessions bore 
a diminishing proportion to ^hat with foreign countries. 

^ Cd. 2395 aad Cd. 2337. 

* Trade with British possessions as well as with Great Britain is here included. 


imperialism: a study 

Thirdly, of the trade with British possessions the tropical 
trade, and in particular the trade with the new tropical 
possessions, was the smallest, least progressive, and most 
fluctuating in quantity, while it is lowest in the character 
of the goods which it embraces. 




T here is a widely prevalent belief *that imperial 
expansion is desirable, or even necessary, in order 
to absorb and utilize the surplus of our ever-growing 
population. The reproductive powers of nature,’* runs 
the argument, “ brook no restraint : the most dominant 
force in history is the»tendency of population to overflow its 
ancient banks, seeking fuller and easier subsistence. Great 
Britain is one bf the most congested areas in the world ; 
her growing population cannot find enough remunerative 
occupation within these islands ; professional and working- 
classes alike find it more and more difficult to earn a decent 
and secure living, every labour market is overstocked, 
emigration is a prime economic necessity. Now, those who 
under such pressure leave our shores consist largely of the 
strongest and most energetic stuff the nation contains. Many 
of these people, whose permanent alienation would be a 
heavy loss, have been saved to the Empire by the policy 
of imperial expansion : they have settled either in vacant 
places of the earth which they have seized and kept under 
British rule, or in places where they have set up a definitely 
British supremacy over lower races of existing inhabitants. 
It is our most urgent national interest that this surplus 
emigrant population shall settle in lands which are under 
the British flag, and we must therefore maintain a constant 
policy of extending the political control of Great Britain 
so as to cover the new homes to which these people betake 

4 * 

imperialism: a study 

themselves in pursuit of employment.” This motive is 
closely linked with other economic motives relating to trade 
and investments. The establishment of British trade, and 
especially of British capital, in foreign lands naturaDy 
attracts a certain British population ; traders, engineers, 
overseers, and mechanics are needed as entrepreneurs and 
managers. So wherever a new area was opened up to^ilr* 
trade and capital the nucleus of an outlander population was 
formed. Hcn^e, of necessity, sprang up a crop of political 
issues, an outlander problem : the British olitlanders, not 
satisfied vdth the foreign rule, demanded the intervention 
of their home Government. Thus the duty of protecting 
British subjects in a foreign country has been identified 
with the duty of protecting British •property, not merely 
the personal property of the outlanciers, often a trivial matter, 
but the far larger stakes of the home investors. But apart 
from these cases of special interest, wherever any con- 
siderable number of British subjects settles in a savage or 
semi-civilized country they have a “ right ” to British 
protection, and since that protection can seldom be made 
effective without the exercise of direct British authority, 
the imperial aegis of Great Britain must be spread over all 
such areas, when a convenient occasion for such expansion 
should present itself. 

Such has been the accepted theory and practice. What 
validity did it possess as an argument for imperial expansion ? 
Let me first ask ; Was England over-populated, and was 
the prospect of further increase such as to compel us to 

peg out claims for posterity ” in other parts of the world ? 
The facts are these. Great Britain is not and was not so 
thickly populated as certain prosperous industrial areas in 
Germany, the Netherlands^ and China : along with every 
recent growth of population has come a far greater growth 
of wealth and of the power to purchase food and other 



subsistence. The modern specialization of industry has 
caused a congestion of population upon certain spots which 
may be injurious in some ways to the well-being of the 
nation^ but it cannot be regarded as over-population in the 
sense of a people outgrowing the means of subsistence. 
Nor have we reason to fear such over-population in the 
Jhtiirc* It is true that our manufactures and commerce 
may not continue to grow as rapidly as in the past, though 
we have no clear warrant from industrial sAtistics for this 
judgment : But if this be so, neither is our population 
likely to increase so fast. Of this we have clear statistical 
evidence : the diminution of the rate of growth of our* 
population, as disclosed by the recent censuses, is such as to 
justify the conclusion th^t, if the same forces continue to 
operate, the population , of Great Britain will be stationary 
by the middle of the century. 

There exists, then, no general necessity for a policy of 
expansion in order to provide for over-population, present 
or prospective. But supposing it had been necessary for 
an increasing surplus of our pdpulation to emigrate, was 
it necessary for us to spend so large a part of our national 
resources, and to incur such heavy risks, in seizing new 
territory for them to settle upon ? 

The total emigration of Britons represents no large 
proportion of the population ; that proportion during the 
years of imperial expansion perceptibly diminished : of the 
emigrants less than one-half settled in British possessions, 
and an infinitesimally small fraction settled in the countries 
acquired under the new Imperialism. These most in- 
structive facts are established by the following official table, 
giving the statistics of emigration from 1884 to 1903, the 
year from which the full tide q| imperial expansion is to be 
dated : — 


imperialism: a study 

Number or Outward Bound Passengers or British and Irish Origin^ rrom 
THE United Kingdom to Countries out or Europe.^ 

Passengers to 

. V'ear. 






and New 

Cape of 
and Natal. 











242, 1 f9 
























3*, 127 
















1 1,683 



>S6 i 39S 






















*7,459 : 




1 56,030 






. 20,234 










85 j 324 





























1 5,757 



















Regarded as a measure of the outflow of “ surplus ” 
population, even these figures are excessive in two ways. 
In the first place, they include considerable numbers of 
travellers and casual visitors who were not real emigrants. 
Secondly, to measure aright the net emigration, we must 
set against these figures the immigration figures. The net 
reduction of our population by emigration is thus reduced 
to an average, during the years 1895-1900 to 31,474 per 

The “ boom ’’ in North-West Canada and in the colonies 

‘ Number of passenger* for the years 1912-1934 are given in the Appendix, 
P- 374- 



of South Africa perceptibly increased the flow at the turn 
of the century. But the rest of our Empire has absorbed 
a very small proportion of our emigrants. The number 
sailing for “ other parts of the Empire in 1903 was 8,719, 
and of these the number of actual settlers in the new tropical 
dominions would be a mere handful. 

certain quantity of military and official employment 
is afforded by the new Imperialism to the influential upper 
classes, a few engineers, missionaries, prospectors, and 
overseers of trading and industrial undertakings get tem- 
porary posts, but as a contribution towards the general 
field of employment the new Imperialism is an utterly 
insignificant factor. 

No substantial settlement of Britons was taking place in 
1905 upon any of the areas of the Empire acquired since 1870, 
excepting the Transvaal and the Orange River Colony, nor 
was it likely that any such settlement would take place. 
The tropical character of most lands acquired under the 
new Imperialism renders genuine colonisation impossible : 
there was no true British settlement in these places ; a small 
number of men spent a short broken period in precarious 
occupations. The new Empire was even more barren for 
settlement than for profitable trade. 





OEEING that the Imperialism of the l^t six decades 
^ is clearly condemned as a business policy, in that at 
enormous expense it has procured a small, bad, unsafe 
increase of markets, and has jeopardised the entire wealth 
of the nation in rousing the strong resentment of other 
nations, we may ask, How is the British nation induced 
to embark upon such unsouncf business ? ” The only 
possible answer is that the business interests of the nation 
as a whole are subordinated to those of certain sectional 
interests that usurp control 6f the national resources and 
use them for their private gain. This is no strange or 
•> monstrous charge to bring ; it is the commonest disease of all 
forms of government. The famous words of Sir Thomas 
More are as true now as when he wrote them : “ Every- 
where do I perceive a certain conspiracy of rich men seeking 
th^ir own advantage under the name and pretext of the 
commonwealth . ’ * 

Although the new Imperialism has beeti bad busiijess 
for the nation, it has been good business for certain classes 
and certain trades within the nation. The vast expenditure 
on armaments, the costly wars, the grave risks and em- 
barrassments of foreign policy, the checks upon political 
and social reforms within Great Britain, though fraught 
with great injury to the nation, have served well the present 
business interests of certain industries and professions. 



It is idle to meddle with politics unless we clearly recognise 
this central fact and understand what these sectional 
interests are which are the enemies of national safety and 
the commonwealth. We must put aside the merely 
sentimental diagnosis which explains wars or other national 
blunders by outbursts of patriotic animosity or errors of 
stiptecraft. Doubtless at every outbreak of war not only 
the man in the street but the man at the helm is often 
duped by the cunning with which aggressivt motives and 
greedy purposes dress themselves in defensive clothing. 
There is, it may be safely asserted, no war within memory, 
however nakedly aggressive it may seem to the dispassionate 
historian, which has not been presented to the people who 
were called upon to fight as a necessary defensive policy, in 
which the honour, perhaps the very existence, of the State 
was involved. 

The disastrous folly of these wars, the material and 
moral damage inflicted even on the victor, appear so plain 
to the disinterested spectatoV that he is apt to despair of 
any State attaining years of discretion, and inclines to 
regard these natural cataclysms as implying some ultimate* 
irrationalism in politics. But careful analysis of the existing 
relations between business and politics shows that the 
aggressive Imperialism which we seek to understand is not 
in the main the product of blind passions of races or of the 
mixed folly and ambition of politicians. It is far more 
rational than at first sight appears. Irrational- from the 
standpoint of the whole nation, it is rational enough from 
the standpoint of certain classes in the nation. A com- 
pletely socialist State which kept good books and presented 
regular balance-sheets of expenditure and assets would 
soon discard Imperialism ; an intelligent laisseZ’-faire de- 
mocracy which gave duly propoftionate weight in its policy 
to all economic interests alike would do the same. But 

47 . 

imperialism: a study 

a State in which certain well-organised business interests 
are able to outweigh the weak, diffused interest of the 
community is bound to pursue a policy which accords with 
the pressure of the former interests. 

In order to explain Imperialism on this hypothesis we 
have to answer two questions. Do we find in Great Britain 
any well-organised group of special commercial and sopifill 
interests which stand to gain by aggressive Imp'^rialism and 
the militarisnt it involves ? If such a combination of 
interests exists, has it the power to work its will in the 
arena of politics ? 

What is the direct economic outcome of Imperialism ? 
A great expenditure of public money upon ships, guns, 
military and naval equipment and^ stores, growing and 
productive of enormous profits when a war, or an alarm 
of war, occurs ; new public loans and important fluctuations 
in the home and foreign Bourses ; more posts for soldiers 
and sailors and in the diplomatic and consular services ; 
improvement of foreign investments by the substitution of 
the British flag for a foreign flag ; acquisition of markets for 
certain classes of exports, and some protection and assistance 
for British trades in these manufactures ; employment for 
engineers, missionaries, speculative miners, ranchers and 
other emigrants. 

Certain definite business and professional interests feeding 
upon imperialistic expenditure, or upon the results of that 
expenditure, are thus set up in opposition to the common 
good, and, instinctively feeling their way to one another, 
are found united in strong sympathy to support every new 
imperialist exploit. 

If the j{^6o,ooo,ooo^ which may now be taken as a minimum 
expenditure on armaments in time of peace were subjected 
to a close analysis, most ot it would be traced directly to 

^ In 1905 ; now, in 1938, j(^2cx),ooo,ooo. 



the tills of certain big firms engaged in building warships 
and transports, equipping and coaling them, manufacturing 
guns, rifles, ammunition, ’planes and motor vehicles 
of every kind, supplying horses, waggons, saddlery, food, 
clothing for the services, contracting for barracks, and for 
other large irregular needs. Through these main channels 
th^ millions flow to feed many subsidiary trades, most of 
which are quite aware that they are engaged in executing 
contracts for the services. Here we have «n important 
nucleus of coq^mercial Imperialism. Some of these trades, 
especially the shipbuilding, boilermaking, and gun and 
ammunition making trades, are conducted by large firms 
with immense capital, whose heads are well aware of the uses 
of political influence for trade purposes. 

These men are Imperialists by conviction ; a pushful 
policy is good for them.* 

With them stand the great manufacturers for export 
trade, who gain a living by supplying the real or artificial 
wants of the new countries Ve annex or open up. Man- 
chester, Sheffield, Birmingham, tojiame three representative 
cases, are full of firms which compete in pushing textiles 
and hardware, engines, tools, machinery, spirits, guns, upon 
new markets. The public debts which ripen in our colonies, 
and in foreign countries that come under our protectorate 
or influence, are largely loaned in the shape of rails, engines, 
guns, and other materials of civilization made and sent out 
by British firms. The making of railways, <janals, and other 
public works, the establishment of factories, the development 
of mines, the improvement of agriculture in new countries, 
stimulate a definite interest in important manufacturing 
industries which feeds a very firm imperialist faith in their 

The proportion which such •trade bears to the total 
industry of Great Britain is not great, but some of it is 


imperialism: a study 

extremely influential and able to make a definite impression 
upon politics, through chambers of commerce, Parliamentary 
representatives, and semi-political, semi-commercial bodies 
like the Imperial South African Association or the China 

The shipping trade has a very definite interest which 
makes for Imperialism. This is well illustrated by ^e 
policy of State subsidies now claimed by shipping firms 
as a retainer^ and in order to encourage British shipping 
for purposes of imperial safety and defence. ^ 

The services are, of course, imperialist by conviction 
and by professional interest, and every increase of the army, 
navy and air force enhances the political power they exert. 
The abolition of purchase in the army, by opening the 
profession to the upper middle classes, greatly enlarged this 
most direct feeder of imperial Sentiment. The potency 
of this factor is, of course, largely due to the itch for glory 
and adventure among military officers upon disturbed or 
uncertain frontiers of the Empire. This has been a most 
prolific source of expansion in India. The direct pro- 
fessional influence of the services carries with it a less 
organise^, but powerful sympathetic support on the part of 
the aristocracy and the wealthy classes, who seek in the 
services careers for their sons. 

To the military services we may add the Indian Civil 
Service and the numerous official and semi-official posts 
in our colonies and protectorates. Every expansion of the 
Empire is also regarded by these same classes as affording 
new openings for their sons as ranchers, planters, engineers, 
or missionaries. This point of view is aptly summarised by a 
high Indian official, Sir Charles Crossthwaite, in discussing 
British relations with Siam. ‘‘ The real question was who 
was to get the trade with them, and how we could ifiake 
the most of them, so as to find fresh markets for our goods 


economic parasites of imperialism 

and also employment for those superfluous articles of the 
present day, our boys.” 

From this standpoint our colonies still remain what 
James Mill cynically described them as being, ‘‘a vast 
system of outdoor relief for the upper classes.” 

In all the professions, military and civil, the army, diplo- 
macy, the church, the bar, teaching and engineering. Greater 
Britain serves for an overflow, relieving the congestion of 
the home market and offering chances to ^nore reckless 
or adventuroift members, while it furnishes a convenient 
limbo for damaged characters and careers. The actual 
amount of profitable employment thus furnished by our 
recent acquisitions is inconsiderable, but it arouses that 
disproportionate inteaest which always attaches to the 
margin of employment^ Tp extend this margin is a 
powerful motive in Imperialism. 

These influences, primarily economic, though not un- 
mixed with other sentimental motives, are particularly 
operative in military, clerical, academic, and Civil Service 
circles, and furnish an interested *bias towards Imperialism 
throughout the educated circles. 


By far the most important economic factor in Imperialism 
is the influence relating to investments. The growing 
cosmopolitanism of capital has been the greatest economic 
change of recent generations. Every advanced industrial 
nation has been'^ending to place a larger share of its capital 
outside the limits of its own political area, in foreign 
countries, or in colonies, and to draw a growing income 
from this source. 

No exact or even approximate estimate of the total amount 
of the income of the British nation derived from foreign 

E 51 

imperialism: a study 

investments is possible. We possess, however, in the income 
tax assessments an indirect measurement of certain large 
sections of investments, from which we can form some 
judgment as to the total size of the income from foreign and 
colonial sources, and the rate of its growth. 

These returns give us a measure of the amount and 
growth of the investments effected by British citiz^^s 
in foreign and colonial stocks of a public or semi-public 
character, incTuding foreign and colonial public securities, 
railways, etc. The income from these sourctfs is computed 
as follows : — ^ 







A, 728, 770 








From this table it appfears that the period of energetic 
Imperialism coincided with a remarkable growth in the 
income for foreign investments. 

These figures, however, only give the foreign income 
which can be identified as such. The closer estimates 
made by Sir R. Giffen and others warrant the belief that 
the actual income derived from foreign and colonial invest- 
ments amounted to not less than 100,000,000, the capital 
value of the same reaching a sum of about ^^ 2 , 000, 000,000.* 
Income tax returns and other statistics descriptive of 
the growth of these investments indicate that the total 
amount of British investments abroad at the end of the 
nineteenth century canno^ be set down at a lower figure 

' Figures for the years 1929-1933 are given in the Appendix, p. 375. 

• See Appendix, p. 375. 



than this. Considering that Sir R. Giffen regarded as 
“ moderate ’’ the estimate of ^^i, 700, 000,000 in 1892, the 
figure here named is probably below the truth. 

Now, without placing any undue reliance upon these 
estimates, we cannot fail to recognise that in dealing with 
these foreign investments we are facing the most important 
factor in the economics of Imperialism.- Whatever figures 
we take, two facts are evident. First, that the income 
derived as interest upon foreign investments enormously 
exceeded that tlerived as profits upon ordinary export and 
import trade. Secondly, that while our foreign and 
colonial trade, and presumably the income from it, were 
growing but slowly, the share of our import values repre- 
senting income from foreign investments was growing very 

In a former chapter I pointed out how small a proportion 
of our national income appeared to be derived as profits 
from external trade. It seemed unintelligible that the 
enormous costs and risks of the new Imperialism should be 
undertaken for such small results "in the shape of increase 
to external trade, especially when the size and character of 
the new markets acquired were taken into consideration. 
The statistics of foreign investments, however, shed clear 
light upon the economic forces which dominate our policy. 
While the manufacturing and trading classes make little 
out of their new markets, paying, if they knew it, much more 
in taxation than they get out of them in trade, it is quite 
otherwise with the investor. 

It is not too much to say that the modern foreign 
policy of Great Britain has been primarily a struggle for 
profitable markets of investment. To a larger extent every 
year Great Britain has been becoming a nation living upon 
tribute from abroad, and the classes who enjoy this tribute 
' have had an ever-increasing incentive to employ the public 


imperialism: a study 

policy, the public purse, and the public force to extend 
the field of their private investments, and to safeguard and 
improve their existing investments. This is, perhaps, the 
most important fact in modern politics, and the obscurity in 
which it is wrapped has constituted the gravest danger to 
our State. 

What was true of Great Britain was true likewise of 
France, Germany, the United States, and of all countries in 
which moderA capitalism had placed large surplus savings 
in the hands of a plutocracy or of a thrifty mfddle class. A 
well-recognised distinction is drawn between creditor and 
debtor countries. Great Britain had been for some time 
by far the largest creditor country, and the policy by which 
the investing classes used the instrument of the State for 
private business purposes is most^ richly illustrated in the 
history of her wars and annexations. But France, Germany, 
and the United States were advancing fast along the same 
path. The nature of these imperialist operations is thus 
set forth by the Italian economist Loria : 

When a country which has contracted a debt is unable, 
on account of the slenderness of its income, to offer sufficient 
guarantee for the punctual payment of interest, what 
happens ? Sometimes an out-and-out conquest of the 
debtor country follows. Thus France’s attempted conquest 
of Mexico during the second empire was undertaken solely 
with the view of guaranteeing the interest of French citizens 
holding Mexican securities. But more frequently the 
insufiicient guarantee of an international loan gives rise to 
the appointment of a financial commission by the creditor 
countries in order to protect their rights and guard the 
fate of their invested capital. The appointment of such a 
commission literally amounts in the end, however, to a 
veritable conquest. We have examples of this in Egypt, 
which has to all practical purposes become a British province, 



and in Tunis, which has in like manner become a dependency 
of France, who supplied the greater part of the loan. The 
Egyptian revolt against the foreign domination issuing from 
the debt came to nothing, as it met with invariable opposi- 
tion from capitalistic combinations, and Tel-el-Kebir’s 
success bought with money, was the most brilliant victory 
wealth has ever obtained on the field of battle.”^ 

But, though useful to explain certain economic facts, 
the terms creditor ” and " debtor,” as applied to countries, 
obscure the most significant feature of this Imperialism. 
For though, as appears from the analysis given above, much, 
if not most, of the debts were “ public,” the credit was 
nearly always private, though sometimes, as in the case of 
Egypt, its owners succeeded in getting their Government 
to enter a most unprofitable partnership, guaranteeing the 
payment of the interest, but not sharing in it. 

Aggressive Imperialism, which costs the taxpayer so 
dear, which is of so little value to the manufacturer and 
trader, which is fraught with such grave incalculable 
peril to the citizen, is a source o^ great gain to the investor 
who cannot find at home the profitable use he seeks for 
his capital, and insists that his Government should help 
him to profitable and secure investments abroad. 

If, contemplating the enormous expenditure on arma- 
ments, the ruinous wars, the diplomatic audacity or knavery 
by which modern Governments seek to extend their 
territorial power, we put the plain, practical question, Cui 
bono ? the first and most obvious answer is, the investor. 

The annual income Great Britain derives from com- 
missions on her whole foreign and colonial trade, import 
and export, was estimated by Sir R. GifFen* at ^^i 8,000,000 ‘for 
1899, taken at per cent., upon a turnover of £800,000,000. 

* Lorta, The Economic Foundations of Politics^ p. 273 (George Allen St Unwin). 

• Journal of the Statistical Society^ vol. xlii, p. 9. 

5 S 

imperialism: a study 

This is the whole that we are entitled to regard as profits 
on external trade. Considerable as this sum is, it cannot 
serve to yield an economic motive-power adequate to explain 
the dominance which business considerations exercise over 
our imperial policy. Only when we set beside it some 
90, 000,000 or 1 00,000,000, representing pure profit upon 
investments, do we understand whence the economic 
impulse to Imperialism is derived.,, 

Investors Vho have put their money in foreign lands, 
upon terms which take full account of wsks connected 
with the political conditions of the country, desire to use 
the resources of their Government to minimise these risks, 
and so to enhance the capital value and the interest of 
their private investments. The investing and speculative 
classes in general have also desired that Great Britain should 
take other foreign areas under her flag in order to secure 
new areas for profitable investments and speculation. 


If the special interest of the investor is liable to clash 
with the public interest and to induce a wrecking policy, 
still more dangerous is the special interest of the financier, 
the general dealer in investments. In large measure the 
rank and file of the investors are, both for business and for 
politics, the cat’spaws of the great financial houses, who use 
stocks and shares not so much as investments to yield 
them interest, but as material for speculation in the money 
market. In handling large masses of stocks and shares, 
in floating companies, in manipulating fluctuations of values, 
the magnates of the Bourse find their gain. These great 
businesses — banking, broking, bill discounting, loan floating, 
company promoting — ^forfn the central ganglion of inter- 
national capitalism. United by the strongest bonds of 


organisation, always in closest and quickest touch with one 
another, situated in the very heart of the business capital 
of every State, controlled, so far as Europe is concerned, 
chiefly by men of a single and peculiar race, who have 
behind them many centuries of financial experience, they are 
in a unique position to manipulate the policy of nations. No 
great quick direction of capital is possible save by their 
consent and through their agency. Does any one seriously 
suppose that a great war could be undeitaken by any 
European Sttfite, or a great State loan subscribed, if the 
house of Rothschild and its connexions set their face 
against it f 

Every great political act involving a new flow of capital, 
or a large fluctuation in the values of existing investments, 
must receive the sanction and the practical aid of this little 
group of financial kings.* These men, holding their realised 
wealth and their business capital, as they must, chiefly in 
stocks and bonds, have a double stake, first as investors, but 
secondly and chiefly as finarfcial dealers. As investors, their 
political influence does not differ essentially from that of 
the smaller investors, except that they usually possess a 
practical control of the businesses in which they invest. 
As speculators or financial dealers they constitute, however, 
the gravest single factor in the economics of Imperialism. 

To create new public debts, to float new companies, 
and to cause constant considerable fluctuations of values 
are three conditions of their profitable business. Each 
condition carries them into politics, and throws them on 
the side of Imperialism. 

The public financial arrangements for the Philippine 
war put several millions of dollars into the pockets of 
Mr. Pierpont Morgan and his friends ; the China- Japan 
war, which saddled the Celestial Empire for the first 
time with a public debt, and the indemnity which she 


imperialism: a study 

will pa7 to her European invaders in connexion with the‘ 
recent conflict, bring grist to the financial mills in Europe ; 
every railway or mining concession wrung from some 
reluctant foreign potentate means profitable business in 
raising capital and floating companies. A policy which 
rouses fears of aggression in Asiatic states, and which 
fans the rivalry of commercial nations in Europe, evokes 
vast expenditure on armaments, and ever-accumulating 
public debts, •while the doubts and risks accruing from 
this policy promote that constant oscillation of values of 
securities nvhich is so profitable to the skilled financier. 
There is not a war, a revolution, an anarchist assassination, 
or any other public shock, which is not gainful to these 
men ; they are harpies who suck tjieir gains from every 
new forced expenditure and tvtr^ sudden disturbance of 
public credit. To the financiers “ in the know ” the 
Jameson raid was a most advantageous coup, as may be 
ascertained by a comparison of the ‘‘ holdings ” of these 
men before and after that event ; the terrible sufferings 
of England and South Africa in the war, which was a sequel 
of the raid, has been a source of immense profit to the big 
financiers who have best held out against the uncalculated 
waste, and have recouped themselves by profitable war 
contracts and by freezing out ” the smaller interests in 
the Transvaal. These men are the only certain gainers 
from the war, and most of their gains are made out of 
the public losses of their adopted country or the private 
losses of their fellow-countrymen. 

The policy of these men, it is true, does not necessarily 
make for war ; where war would bring about too great and 
too permanent a damage to the substantial fabric of industry, 
which is the ultimate and essential basis of speculation, their 
influence is cast for peac^, as in the dangerous quarrel 
between Great Britain and the United States regarding 



Venezuela. But every increase of public expenditure, every 
oscillation of public credit short of this collapse, every 
risky enterprise in which public resources can be made the 
pledge of private speculations, is profitable to the big 
money-lender and speculator. 

The wealth of these houses, the scale of their operations, 
and their cosmopolitan organisation make them the prime 
determinants of imperial policy. They have the largest 
definite stake in the business of Imperialism, and the 
amplest means of forcing their will upon the policy of 

In view of the part which the non-economic factors 
of patriotism, adventure, military enterprise, political 
ambition, and philanthropy play in imperial expansion, it 
may appear that to impute to financiers so much power 
is to take a too narrowly economic view of history. And 
it is true that the motor-power of Imperialism is not 
chiefly financial : finance is rather the governor of the 
imperial engine, directing tte energy and determining its 
work ; it does not constitute the fuel of the engine, nor 
does it directly generate the power. Finance manipulates 
the patriotic forces which politicians, soldiers, philan- 
thropists, and traders generate ; the enthusiasm for 
expansion which issues from these sources, though strong 
and genuine, is irregular and blind ; the financial interest 
has those qualities of concentration and clear-sighted 
calculation which are needed to set Imperialism to work. 
An ambitious statesman, a frontier soldier, an overzealous 
missionary, a pushing trader, may suggest or even initiate 
a step of imperial expansion, may assist in educating 
patriotic public opinion to the urgent need of some fresh 
advance, but the final determination rests with the financial 
power. The direct influence Exercised by great financial 
houses in “ high politics ’’ is supported by the control which 


imperialism: a study 

they exercise over the body of public opinion throughr 
the Press, which, in every “ civilised ” country, is becoming 
more and more their obedient instrument. While the 
specifically financial newspaper imposes “ facts ” and 
“ opinions ’’ on the business classes, the general body of 
the Press comes more and more under the conscious or 
unconscious domination of financiers. The case of the 
South African Press, whose agents and correspondents 
fanned the lilartial flames in this country, was one of open 
ownership on the part of South African iinanciers, and 
this policy of owning newspapers for the sake of manu- 
facturing public opinion is common in the great European 
cities. In Berlin, Vienna, and Paris many of the influential 
newspapers have been held by financial houses, which used 
them, not primarily to make direct profits out of them, 
but in order to put into the public mind beliefs and senti- 
ments which would influence public policy and thus affect 
the money market. In Great Britain this policy has not 
gone so far, but the alliance with finance grows closer every 
year, either by financiers purchasing a controlling share of 
newspapers, or by newspaper proprietors being tempted 
into finance. Apart from the financial Press, and financial 
ownership of the general Press, the City has notoriously 
exercised a subtle and abiding influence upon leading 
London newspapers, and through them upon the body 
of the provincial Press, while the entire dependence of the 
Press for its business profits upon its advertising columns 
has involved a peculiar reluctance to oppose the organised 
financial classes with whom rests the control of so much 
advertising business. Add to this the natural sympathy with * 
a sensational policy which a cheap Press always manifests, 
and it becomes evident that the Press has been strongly 
biased towards Imperialism, and' has lent itself with great 
facility to the suggestion of financial or political Imperialists 



who have desired to work up patriotism for some new piece 
of expansion. 

Such is the array of distinctively economic forces making 
for Imperialism, a large loose group of trades and professions 
seeking profitable business and lucrative employment from 
the expansion of military and civil services, and from the 
expenditure on military operations, the opening up of 
new tracts of territory and trade with the same, and the 
provision of new capital which these opeAtions require, 
all these finding their central guiding and directing force 
in the power of the general financier. 

The play of these forces does not openly appear. They 
are essentially parasites upon patriotism, and they adapt 
themselves to its protecting colours. In the mouth of their 
representatives are noble phrases, expressive of their desire 
to extend the area of civilisation, to establish good govern- 
ment, promote Christianity, extirpate slavery, and elevate 
the lower races. Some of the business men who hold such 
language may entertain a genuine, though usually a vague, 
desire to accomplish these end«, but they are primarily 
engaged in business, and they are not unaware of the utility 
of the more unselfish forces in furthering their ends. Their 
true attitude of mind was expressed by Mr. Rhodes in his 
famous description of “ Her Majesty’s Flag ” as “ the 
greatest commercial asset in the world.” ^ 


Sir R. Giffen estimated the income derived from foreign 
sources as profit, interest and pensions in 1882 at j(^70, 000,000, 
and in a paper read before the Statistical Society in March, 
1899 estimated the income from the same sources for the 

^ It will be observed that this, like not* a few other words of revelation, has 
been doctored in the volume, Cedi Rhodes : bis Political Life and Speeches^ by 
“ Vindex (p, 823). 


imperialism: a study 

current year at jf90,ooo,cxx). It is probable that this last 
figure is an underestimate, for if the items of foreign income 
not included as such under the income-tax returns bear 
the same proportion to those included as in 1882, the total 
of income from foreign and colonial investments should be 
j£i 20,000,000 rather than ^^90, 000, 000. Sir R. Giflen 
hazarded the calculation that the new public investments 
abroad in the sixteen years 1882-1898 amounted to over 
j^8oo, 000,000? “ and though part of the sum may have 
been nominal only, the real investment mRst have been 

Mr. Mulhall gave the following estimate of the size and 
growth of our foreign and colonial investments after 1862 : 



Annual Increase. 

1862 .... 



Per cent. 

1872 .... 

^ 600,000,000 


1882 .... 


i »93 .... 


This last amount is of especial interest, because it repre- 
sents the most thorough investigation made by a most 
competent economist for the Dictionary of Political Economy, 
The investments included under this figure may be classified 
under the following general heads : — 




















Municipal . 




Mines, &c. . 







In other words, in 1893 the British capital invested abroad 
represented about 15 per cent, of the total wealth of the 
United Kingdom. ; nearly one-half of this capital was in the 
form of loans to foreign and colonial Governments ; of 
the rest a large proportion was invested in railways, banks, 
telegraphs, and other public services, owned, controlled, 
or vitally affected by Governments, while most of the 
remainder was placed in lands and mines, or in industries 
directly dependent on land values.^ 

^ Total (Nominal) British investments overseas for the years 1929-1933 are 
given in the Appendix, p. 375. 




A BUSINESS man estimating the value of an extension 
of his ^business will set the increased costs against 
the increased takings. Is it unreasonable that a business 
nation should adopt the same course ? From this stand- 
point our increased military and naval expenditure during 
recent years may be regarded primarily as insurance premiums 
for protection of existing colonial ^markets and current 
outlay on new markets. 

In order to test the finance of the new Imperialism, let 
us compare the growth of expenditure on armaments and 
wart since 1884 with the increased value of colonial traded 
(page 65). 

Now, though there ai;e no means of ear-marking the 
expenditure which might rank as insurance upon old markets 
or that which is spent upon acquiring new markets, it is not 
unreasonable to saddle the new Imperialism with the whole 
of the increase and to set against it the value of the trade 
of the new acquisitions. For though it might be claimed 
that the aggressive commercialism of rival European States 
raised the insurance rate upon the old markets, it cannot 
be contended that Great Britain’s expenditure on arma- 
ments need have increased had she adopted firmly and 
consistently the full practice of Cobdenism, a purely defen- 
sive attitude regarding her. existing Empire and a total 
abstinence from acquisition of new territory. The increased 
hostility of foreign nation^ towards us in the last thirty 

^ Figures for the years 1904-1931 are given in the Appendix, p. 376. 




and War. 

Colonial Trade. 
Import and 
Export Trade 
with Possessions. 

1884 .... 





1885 .... 



1886 .... 



1887 . 


1 66,000,000 

1888 .... 



1889 .... 



1890 . • . 



1891 .... 



1892 .... 


1 79,000,000 

1893 .... 

33,423,000 1 


1894 .... 



189s .... 

35 ^ 593*000 


1896 .... 



1897 . . . • . 



1898 . . . . 



1899 . 



1900 . 



1901 .... 



1902 .... 



1903 .... 



years of the nineteenth century may be regarded as entirely 
due to the aggressive Imperialism of those years, and the 
increased expenditure on armaments may, therefore, 
reasonably rank in a business balance-sheet as a cost of 
that policy. 

So, taken, this netv expenditure was nothing else than a 
huge business blunder. An individual doing business in 
this fashion could not avoid bankruptcy, and a nation, 
however rich, pursuing such a policy is loaded with a 
millstone which must eventually drag her down. 

In total contravention of our theory that trade rests upon 
a basis of mutual gain to the nations that engage in it, ive 
undertook enormous expenses with the object of “ forcing 
new markets, and the markets we forced were small, pre- 


imperialism: a stupy 

carious^ and unprofitable. The only certain and palpable 
result of the expenditure was to keep us continually embroiled 
with the very nations that were our best customers, and 
with whom; in spite of everything, our trade made the most 
satisfactory advance. 

Not only were these markets not worth what they cost 
us, but the assumption that our trade would have been 
proportionately less had they fallen into the hands of rival 
and ProtecticSiiist nations is quite groundless. If, instead 
of squandering money upon these territoriil acquisitions, 
we had let any or all of them pass into the possession of 
France, Germany, or Russia, in order that these countries 
might spend their money, instead of us spending our money, 
in acquiring and developing them, «is it certain that our 
foreign trade would not have grqwn by at least as much 
as our colonial trade might have shrunk i The assumption 
that there is only a given quantity of trade, and that if one 
nation gets any portion of it, another nation loses just so 
much, shows a blind ignorance of the elements of inter- 
national trade. It arises irom a curiously perverse form of 
separatism which insists upon a nation keeping a separate 
account with every other nation, and ignoring altogether 
the roundabout trade which is by far the most important 
business of an advanced industrial nation. 

France seizing Madagascar practically extirpated direct 
British trade with the Malagasy ; Germany, by her occupa- 
tion of Shan-tung, deprived us of all possibility of trade 
with this Chinese province. But it by no means followed 
that France and Germany could or would keep to themselves 
the whole advantage of these new markets. To make 
any such supposition implies a complete abandonment of 
the principles of Free Trade. Even were the whole of China 
portioned out among the other industrial nations, each 
imposing tariffs which virtually prohibited direct trade 



between Great Britain and China — the most extreme 
assumption of a hostile attitude — ^it by no means follows 
that England would not reap enormous benefits from the 
expansion of her foreign trade, attributable in the last resort 
to the opening up of China. Even the feeblest recognition 
of the intricacies of foreign trade should make us aware that 
an increased trade with France, Germany, or Russia, either 
directly or through other nations trading with them might 
have given us our full share of the wealth of Chinese trade, 
and proved a% beneficial as any direct share of trade with 
China wliich at great expense and peril we might have 
secured. The assignment of spheres of influence in China 
or in Africa to France, Germany, or Russia, which they 
might have sought to monopolise for purposes of trade, does 
not imply, as seems to be believed, a corresponding loss 
of markets to England. * The intricate and ever-growing 
industrial co-operation of the civilized nations through 
trade does not permit any nation to keep to herself the 
gain of any market she ma/ hold. It is not difficult to 
conceive cases where another nation might enjoy a larger 
share pf the results of a trade than the nation which owned 
the private markets of this trade. 

These were the commonplaces of the economics of Free. 
Trade, the plainest lessons of enlightened common sense. 
Why were they forgotten ? 

The answer is that Imperialism repudiates Free Trade, 
and rests upon an economic basis of Protection. Just in 
so far as an Imperialist is logical does he become an open 
and avowed Protectionist. 

If the fact of France or Germany seizing for its exclusive 
use a market which we might have seized necessarily reduces 
our aggregate external trade by the amount of this market, 
it is only reasonable that when vW5 seize a territory we should 
take the same means to keep its market for ourselves. 



imperialism: a study 

Imperialism, when it shakes off the “ old gang ” of politicians 
who had swallowed Free Trade doctrine when they were 
young, openly adopts the Protectionism required to round 
off this policy. 

Imperialism naturally strives to fasten to the mother 
country the markets of each new territorial acquisition, 
convinced that only by such separate increments can the 
aggregate of our trade grow ; and by the success of this 
policy it muft justify the enormous national outlay which 
Imperialism involves. Free Trade trusts for the increase 
of our foreign trade to the operation of the self-interest of 
other trading nations. Her doctrine is that, though it 
were better for us and for them that they should give us free 
admission to their colonial and hom^ markets, their protec- 
tive tariff, even though it prohibits us from trading directly 
with their colonies, does not shut us out from all the benefits 
of their colonial development. Through the ordinary 
operation of competition in European markets the rubber 
trade which France does in East Africa helps to increase 
the supply and to keep dcjwn the price of rubber for English 
consumers, just as the bounties which continental countries 
pay to sugar producers enable British boys and girls to 
enjoy cheap sweets. 

There is, then, nothing vaguely hypothetical about these 
indirect gains. Every business man can trace certain 
concrete advantages of goods and prices which come to us 
from the development of colonies by Protectionist countries. 
The “ open door ” is an advantage to our trade, but not a 
necessity. If we have to spend vast sums and incur vast 
risks in keeping ‘‘ doors open ” against the wishes of our best 
customers, it is more profitable to let them close these doors 
and take our gain by the more indirect but equally certain 
processes of roundabout l?rade. At present Great Britain 
is in a stronger position than any other nation to practise 



this policy of abstinence, because she possesses in her 
carrying trade by sea a most effective guarantee that she 
will obtain an adequate share of the net gains from new 
markets opened up by foreign nations. Though no complete 
statistics are available, it is known that a very large pro- 
portion of the trade, not only between England and foreign 
countries, but between foreign countries trading among 
themselves and with their possessions, is carried by British 
ships. So long as this continues, England, apart from her 
share obtained fei roundabout trade, must participate directly 
and in a most important manner in the trade advantages of 
foreign markets belonging to our European trade competitors. 

These considerations ought to make us willing that other 
nations should do their ^phare of expansion and development, 
well contented to await tlje profit which must accrue to us 
from every increase of world-wealth through ordinary 
processes of exchange. We have done our share, and more, 
of the costly, laborious, and 42^ngerous work of opening up 
new countries to the general trade* of Western industrial 
nations ; our later ventures were •more expensive and less 
profitable to us than the earlier ones, and further labours 
of expansion seemed to conform to a law of diminishing 
returns, yielding smaller and more precarious increments 
of trade to a larger outlay of material and intellectual capital. 
Had we not reached, or even passed, the limit of the most 
profitable outlay of our national energy and resources ? 
Will not enlightened self-interest impel us to leave to other 
active and ambitious nations — France, Russia, Germany, 
Japan — the work of developing new tropical or sub-tropical 
countries ? If it is necessary that Western industrial 
civilization shall undertake the political and commercial 
management of the whole world, let these nations take 
their share. Why should we do all the work and get so 
little from it ? On the assumption that backward .countries 


must be developed by foreign countries for the general good, 
a reasonable economy of -power will apportion the work 
which remains to the “ Imperialism ” of other nations. Even 
if these other nations were disposed to shirk their share, it 
would pay us better to persuade them to undertake it rather 
than further to load our overladen shoulders. Since these 
other nations are not only eager to do their share, but by 
their jealousy at our undertaking their work continually 
threaten to^ wreck the peace of Europe, it seems sheer 
madness for Great Britain to weaken herself politically and 
financially by any further process of expansion. 




N O mere array of facts and figures adduced to illustrate 
the ’economic nature of the new Imperialism will 
suffice to dispel the popular delusion that the use of national 
force to secure new markets by annexing fresh tracts of 
territory is a sound and a necessary policy for an advanced 
industrial country like Gfeat Britain.^ It has indeed been 
proved that recent annexations of tropical countries, 
procured at great expense, have furnished poor and pre- 
carious markets, that our aggregate trade with our colonial 
possessions is virtually stationary, and that our most 
profitable and progressive trade is with rival industrial 
nations, whose territories we have no desire to annex, whose 
markets we cannot force, and whose active antagonism we 
are provoking by our expansive policy. 

But these arguments are not conclusive. It is open 
to Imperialists to argue thus : We must have markets for 
our growing manufactures, we must have new outlets for the 
investment of our surplus capital and for the energies of the 
adventurous surplus of our population : such expansion is a 
necessity of life to a nation with our great and growing 
powers of production. An ever larger share of our popula- 
tion is devoted to the manufactures and commerce of towns, 
and is thus dependent for life and work upon food and raw 

^ Written in 1905. 


imperialism: a study 

materials from foreign lands. In order to buy and pay for 
these things we must sell our goods abroad. During the first 
three-quarters of the nineteenth century we could do so 
without difficulty by a natural expansion of commerce with 
continental nations and our colonies, all of which were far 
behind us in the main arts of-manufacture and the carrying 
trades. So long as England held a virtual monopoly of the 
world markets for certain important classes of manufactured 
goods, Imperialism was unnecessary. After 1870 this manu- 
facturing and trading supremacy was grektly impaired ; 
other nations, especially Germany, the United States, and 
Belgium, advanced with great rapidity, and while they have 
not crushed or even stayed the increase of our external trade, 
their competition made it more and Tnore difficult to dispose 
of the full surplus of our manufactures at a profit. The 
encroachments made by these nations upon our old markets, 
even in our own possessions, made it most urgent that we 
should take energetic means to secure new markets. These 
new markets had to lie in hitherto undeveloped countries, 
chiefly in the tropics, wiiere vast populations lived capable 
of growing economic needs which our manufacturers and 
merchants could supply. Our rivals were seizing and 
annexing territories for similar purposes, and when they 
had annexed them closed them to our trade. The diplomacy 
and the arms of Great Britain had to be used in order to 
compel the owners of the new markets to deal with us : and 
experience showed that the safest means of securing and 
developing such markets is by establishing ‘ protectorates ^ 
or by annexation. The value in 1905 of these markets 
must not be taken as a final test of the economy of such a 
policy; the process of educating civilized needs which we 
can supply is of necessity a gradual one, and the cost of such 
Imperialism must be regarded as a capital outlay, the fruits 
of which posterity would reap. The new markets might 



not be large, but they formed serviceable outlets for the 
overflow of our great textile and metal industries, and, when 
the vast Asiatic and African populations of the interior 
were reached, a rapid expansion of trade was expected 
to result. 

‘‘ Far larger and more important is the pressure of capital 
for external fields of investment. Moreover, while the 
manufacturer and trader are well content to trade with 
foreign nations, the tendency for investors to*work towards 
the political Annexation of countries ^which contain their 
more speculative investments is very powerful. Of the fact 
of this pressure of capital there can be no question. Large 
savings are made which cannot find any profitable investment 
in this country ; th%y must find employment elsewhere, 
and it is to the advantaj^e of the nation that they should 
be employed as largely as possible in lands where they can 
be utilized in opening up markets for British trade and 
employment for British enterprise. 

“ However costly, however perilous, this process of 
imperial expansion may be, it is necessary to the continued 
existence and progress of our nation if we abandoned it 
we must be content to leave the development of the world 
to other nations, who will everywhere cut into our trade, 
and even impair our means of securing the food and raw 
materials we require to support our population. Imperialism 
is thus seen to be, not a choice, but a necessity.” 

The practical force of this economic argument in politics 
is strikingly illustrated by the later history of the United 
States. Here is a country which suddenly broke through 
a conservative policy, strongly held by both political parties, 

^ ** And why, indeed, arc wars undertaken, if not to conquer colonies which 
permit the employment of fresh capital, tc* acquire commercial monopolies, or 
tb obtain the exclusive use of certain highways of commerce ? ” (Loria, Economic 
Foundations' of Society^ p. 267). 


imperialism: a study 

bound up with every popular instinct and tradition, and 
flung itself into a rapid imperial career for which it possessed 
neither the material nor the moral equipment, risking the 
principles and practices of liberty and equality by the 
establishment of militarism and the forcible subjugation of 
peoples which it could not safely admit to the condition of 
American citizenship. 

Was this a mere wild freak of spread>eaglism, a burst of 
political ambition on the part of a nation coming to a sudden 
realization of its destiny ? Not at all. The spirit of 
adventure, the American “ mission of civilization,” were as 
forces making for Imperialism, clearly subordinate to the 
driving force of the economic factor. The dramatic 
character of the change is due to the unprecedented rapidity 
of the industrial revolution in the. United States from the 
eighties onwards. During that period the United States, 
with her unrivalled natural resources, her immense resources 
of skilled and unskilled labour, ^and her genius for invention 
and organization, developed the best equipped and most 
productive manufacturing^ economy the world has yet seen. 
Fostered by rigid protective tariffs, her metal, textile, tool, 
clothing, furniture, and other manufactures shot up in 
a single generation from infancy to full maturity, and, 
having passed through a period of intense competition, 
attained, under the able control of great trust-makers, a 
power of production greater than has been attained in the 
piost advanced industrial countries of Europe. 

An era of cut-throat competition, followed by a rapid 
process of amalgamation, threw an enormous quantity of 
wealth into the hands of a small number of captains of 
industry. No luxury of living to which this class could 
attain kept pace with its rise of income, and a process of 
automatic saving set in upon an unprecedented scale. The 
investment of these savings in other industries helped to 



bring these under the same concentrative forces. Thus 
a great increase of savings seeking profitable investment 
is synchronous with a stricter economy of the use of existing 
capital. No doubt the rapid growth of a population, 
accustomed to a high and an always ascending standard of 
comfort, absorbs in the satisfaction of its wants a large 
quantity of new capital. But the actual rate of saving, 
conjoined with a more economical application of forms of 
existing capital, exceeded considerably the rise of the 
national consumption of manufactures. The power of 
production far outstripped the actual rate of consumption, 
and, contrary to the older economic theory, was unable to 
force a corresponding increase of consumption by lowering 
prices. • 

This is no mere theory. The history of any of the 
numerous trusts or combinations in the United States sets 
out the facts with complete distinctness. In the free 
competition of manufactures preceding combination the 
chronic condition is one of “ over-production,” in the sense 
that all the mills or factories can •only be kept at work by 
cutting prices down towards a point where the weaker 
competitors are forced to close down, because they cannot 
sell their goods at a price which covers the true cost of 
production. The first result of the successful formation of 
a trust or combine is to close down the worse equipped or 
worse placed mills, and supply the entire market from the 
better equipped and better placed ones. This course may 
or may not be attended by a rise of price and some restriction 
of consumption : in some cases trusts take most of their 
profits by raising prices, in other cases by reducing the costs 
of production through employing only the best mills and 
stopping the waste of competition. 

. For the present argument it matters not which course 
is taken ; the point is that this concentration of industry 


imperialism: a study 

in “ trusts,” ‘‘ combines,” etc., at once limits the quantity 
of capital which can be effectively employed and increases 
the share of profits out of which fresh savings and fresh 
capital will spring. It is quite evident that a trust which 
is motived by cut-throat competition, due to an excess df 
capital, cannot normally find inside the “ trusted ” industry 
employment for that portion of the profits which the trust - 
makers desire to save and to invest. New inventions and 
other economies of production or distribution within the 
trade may absorb some of the new capital, ‘"but there are 
rigid limits to this absorption. The trust-maker in oil or 
sugar must find other investments for his savings : if he 
is early in the application of the combination principles to 
his trade, he will naturally apply ichis surplus capital to 
establish similar combinations in^ other industries, econo- 
mising capital still further, and rendering it ever harder 
for ordinary saving men to find investments for their 

Indeed, the conditions alike of cut-throat competition 
and of combination attest the congestion of capital in the 
manufacturing industries which have entered the machine 
economy. We are not here concerned with any theoretic 
question as to the possibility of producing by modern 
machine methods more goods than can find a market. It 
is sufficient to point out that the manufacturing power of 
a country like the United States would grow so fast as to 
exceed the demands of the home market. No one acquainted 
with trade will deny a fact which all American economists 
assert, that this is the condition which the United States 
reached at the end of the century, so far, as the more 
developed industries are concerned. Her manufactures 
were saturated with capital and could absorb no more. 
One after another they sought refuge from the waste of 
competition in “ combines ” which secure a measure of 



profitable peace by restricting the quantity of operative 
capital. Industrial and financial princes in oil, steel, sugar, 
railroads, banking, etc., were faced with the dilemma of 
either spending more than they knew how to spend, or 
forcing markets outside the home area. Two economic 
courses were open to them, both leading towards an 
abandonment of the political isolation of the past and the 
adoption of imperialist methods in the future. Instead of 
shutting down inferior mills and rigidly restricting output 
to correspond with profitable sales in the home markets, 
they might employ their full productive power, applying 
their savings to increase their business capital, and, while 
still regulating output and prices for the home market, 
may “ hustle ” for foreign markets, dumping down their 
surplus goods at prices which would not be possible save 
for the profitable nature of their home market. So like- 
wise they might employ their savings in seeking investments 
outside their country, first Repaying the capital borrowed 
from Great Britain and other countries for the early 
development of their railroads, • mines and manufactures, 
and afterwards becoming themselves a creditor class to 
foreign countries. 

It was this sudden demand for foreign markets for manu- 
factures and for investments which was avowedly responsible 
for the adoption of Imperialism as a political policy and 
practice by the Republican party to which the great industrial 
and financial chiefs belonged, and which belonged to them. 
The adventurous enthusiasm of President Theodore Roose- 
velt and his ‘‘ manifest destiny ” and “ mission of civiliza- 
tion ” party must not deceive us. It was Messrs. Rockefeller, 
Pierpont Morgan, and their associates who needed Imperial- 
ism and who fastened it upon the shoulders of the great 
Republic of the West. They heeded Imperialism because 
they desired to use the public resources of their country 


imperialism: a study 

to find profitable employment for their capital which 
otherwise would be superfluous. 

It is not indeed necessary to own a country in order to 
do trade with it or to invest capital in it, and doubtless the 
United States could find some vent for their surplus goods, 
and capital in European countries. But these countries 
were for the most part able to make provision for them- 
selves ; most of them erected tariffs against manufacturing 
imports, and** even Great Britain was urged to defend 
herself by reverting to Protection. The Big American 
manufacturers and financiers were compelled to look to 
China and the Pacific and to South America for their most 
profitable chances ; Protectionists by principle and practice, 
they would insist upon getting as clo^ a monopoly of these 
markets as they can secure, and the competition of Germany, 
England, and other trading nations would drive them to the 
establishment of special political relations with the markets 
they most prize. Cuba, the Philippines, and Hawaii were 
but the hors d* oeuvre to whet an appetite for an ampler 
banquet. Moreover, the powerful hold upon politics which 
these industrial and financial magnates possessed formed 
a separate stimulus, which, as we have shown, was operative 
in Great Britain and elsewhere ; the public expenditure 
in pursuit of an imperial career would be a separate immense 
source of profit to these men, as financiers negotiating loans, 
shipbuilders and owners handling subsidies, contractors 
and manufacturers of armaments and other imperialist 

The suddenness of this political revolution is due to the 
rapid manifestation of the need. In the last years of the 
nineteenth century the United States nearly trebled the 
value of its manufacturing export trade, and it was to be 
expected that, if the rate of progress of those years continued, 
within a decade it would overtake our more slowly advancing 



export trade, and stand first in the list of manufacture- 
exporting nations,^ 

This was the avowed ambition, and no idle one, of the 
keenest business men of' America ; and with the natural 
resources, the labour and the administrative talents at 
their disposal, it was quite likely they would achieve their 
object.* The stronger and more direct control over politics 
exercised in America by business men enabled them to 
drive more quickly and more straightly aloi!g the line of 
their economic interests than in Great Britain. American 
Imperialism was the natural product of th,e economic 
pressure of a sudden advance of capitalism which could not 
find occupation at home and needed foreign markets for 
goods and for investm^ents. 

The same needs existed in European countries, and, as is 

* Export Trade of United States, 1890-1900. 





1890 .... 








1891 .... 




1892 .... 





1893 .... 



1894 .... 


35 . 557 , 


1895 .... 




1896 .... 




1897 .... 




1898 .... 

17 o> 383 >ooo 



1899 .... 





1900 .... 



^ Post-war conditions, with the immense opportunities afforded for exports 
of American goods and capital brought a pause and a temporary withdrawal 
from imperialist policy. 

• “ We hold now three of the winning cards in the game for commercial 
greatness, to wit — iron, steel and coal. V> e have long been the granary of the 
World, we now aspire to be its workshop, then we want to be its clearing-house.” 
(The President of the American Bankers’ Association at Denver, 1898.) 


imperialism: a study 

admitted, drove Governments aldng the same path. Over- 
production in the sense of an excessive manufacturing plant, 
and surplus capital which could not find sound investments 
within the country, forced Great Britain, Germany, 
Holland, France to place larger and larger portions of their 
economic resources outside the area of their present political 
domain, and then stimulate a policy of political expansion so 
as to take in the new areas. The economic sources of this 
movement are laid bare by periodic trade-depressions due 
to an inability of producers to find adequate and profit- 
able markets for what they can produce. The Majority 
Report of the Commission upon the Depression of Trade 
in 1885 put the matter in a nutshell. ‘‘ That, owing to the 
nature of the times, the demand for tour commodities does 
not increase at the same rate as formerly ; that our capacity 
for production is consequently in excess of our require- 
ments, and could be considerably increased at short notice ; 
that this is due partly to the competition of the capital 
which is being steadily accumulated in the country.” The 
Minority Report straightly imputed the condition of affairs 
to “ over-production.” Germany was in the early 1900’$ 
suffering severely from what is called a glut of capital and 
of manufacturing power : she had to have new markets ; 
her Consuls all over the world were “ hustling ” for trade ; 
trading settlements were forced upon Asia Minor ; in East 
and West Africa, in China and elsewhere the German 
Empire was impelled to a policy of colonization and 
protectorates as outlets for German commercial energy. 

Every improvement of methods of production, every 
concentration of ownership and control, seems to accentuate 
the tendency. As one nation after another enters the 
machine economy and adopts advanced industrial methods, 
it becomes more difficult tor its manufacturers, merchants, 
and financiers to dispose profitably of their economic 



resources, and they are tempted more and more to use their 
Governments in order to secure for their particular use 
some distant undeveloped country by annexation and 

The process, we may be told, is inevitable, and so it seems 
upon a superficial inspection. Everywhere appear excessive 
powers of production, excessive capital in search of invest- 
ment. It is admitted by all business men that the growth 
of the powers of production in their country •exceeds the 
growth in consumption, that more goods can be produced 
than can be sold at a profit, and that more capital exists than 
can find remunerative investment. 

It is this economic condition of affairs that forms the 
taproot of Imperialisir^. If the consuming public in this 
country raised its standard of consumption to keep pace 
with every rise of productive powers, there could be no 
excess of goods or capital clamorous to use Imperialism in 
order to find markets ; foreig:n trade would indeed exist, 
but there would be no difficulty in exchanging a small 
surplus of our manufactures for the food and raw material 
we annually absorbed, and all the savings that we made 
could find employment, if we chose, in home industries. 

There is nothing inherently irrational in such a supposition. 
Whatever is, or can be, produced, can be consumed, for a 
claim upon it, as rent, profit, or wages, forms part of the 
real income of some member of the community, and he 
can consume it, or else exchange it for some other consumable 
with some one else who will consume it. With everything 
that is produced a consuming power is born. If then there 
are goods which cannot get consumed, or which cannot even 
get produced because it is evident they cannot get consumed, 
and if there is a quantity of capital and labour which cannot 
get full employment because its products cannot get con- 
sumed, the only possible explanation of this paradox is the 

imperialism: a study 

refusal of owners of consuming power to apply that power in 
effective demand for commodities. 

It is, of course, possible that an excess of producing 
power might exist in particular industries by misdirection, 
being engaged in certain . manufactures, whereas it ought 
to have been engaged in agriculture or some other use. 
But no one can seriously contend that such misdirection 
explains . the recurrent gluts and consequent depressions 
of modern * industry, or that, when over-production is 
manifest in the leading manufactures, ample avenues are 
open for the surplus capital and labour in other industries. 
The general character of the excess of producing power is 
proved by the existence at such times of large bank stocks 
of idle money seeking any sort of profitable investment and 
finding none. 

The root questions underlying the phenomena are 
clearly these ; “ Why is it that consumption fails to keep pace 
automatically in a community with power of production ? ’’ 
“ Why does under-consumption or over-saving occur ? ” 
For it is evident that, the consuming power, which, if 
exercised, would keep tense the reins of production, is in 
part withheld, or in other words is “ saved ” and stored up 
for investment. All saving for investment does not imply 
slackness of produedon ; quite the contrary. Saving is 
economically justified, from the social standpoint, when 
the capital in which it takes material shape finds full employ- 
ment in helping to produce commodities which, when 
produced, will be consumed. It is saving in excess of this 
amount that causes mischief, taking shape in surplus capital 
which is not needed to assist current consumption, and 
which either lies idle, or tries to oust existing capital from 
its employment, or else seeks speculative use abroad under 
the protection of the Government. 

But it may be asked, “ Why should there be any tendency 



to over-saving ? Why should the owners of consuming 
power withhold a larger quantity for savings than can be 
serviceably employed ? ” Another way of putting the 
same question is this, Why should not the pressure of 
present wants keep pace with every possibility of satisfying 
them ? ” The answer to these pertinent questions carries 
us to the broadest issue of the distribution of wealth. If 
a tendency to distribute income or consuming power 
according to needs were operative, it is ivident that 
consumption Would rise with every rise of producing power, 
for human needs are illimitable, and there could be no 
excess of saving. But it is quite otherwise in a state of 
economic society where distribution has no fixed relation 
to needs, but is determined by other conditions which assign 
to some people a consuming power vastly in excess of needs 
or possible uses, while others are destitute of consuming 
power enough to satisfy even the full demands of physical 
efficiency. The following illustration may serve to make the 
issue clear. ** The volume of production has been constantly 
rising owing to the development of modern machinery. 
There are two main channels to carry off these products — 
one channel carrying off the product destined to be con- 
sumed by the workers, and the other channel carrying off the 
remainder to the rich. The workers’ channel is in rock- 
bound banks that cannot enlarge, owing to the competitive 
wage system preventing wages rising fro rata with increased 
efficiency. Wages are based upon cost of living, and not 
upon efficiency of labour. The miner in the poor mine 
gets the same wages per day as the miner in the adjoiiiing 
rich n^ne. The owner of the rich mine gets the advantage 
— not his labourer. The channel which conveys the goods 
destined to supply the rich is itself divided into two streams. 
jOne stream carries off what tHe rich ^ spend ’ on them- 
selves for the necessities and luxuries of life. The other 



imperialism: a study 

is simply an ‘ overflow * stream carrying off their ‘ savings/ 
The channel for spending, i.e. the amount wasted by the 
rich in luxuries, may broaden somewhat, but owing to the 
small number of those rich enough to indulge in whims 
it can never be greatly enlarged, and at any rate it bears 
such a small proportion to the other channel that in no 
event can much hope of avoiding a flood of capital be hoped 
for from this division. The rich will never be so ingenious 
as to spencf enough to prevent over-production. The 
great safety overflow channel which has beeft continuously 
more and more widened and deepened to carry off the 
ever-increasing flood of new capital is that division of the 
stream which carried the savings of the rich, and this is not 
only suddenly found to be incapable of further enlarge- 
ment, but actually seems to be in the process of being 
dammed up.”^ 

Though this presentation over-accentuates the cleavage 
between rich and poor and oyer-states the weakness of the 
workers, it gives forcible and sound expression to a most 
important and ill-recognised economic truth. The over- 
flow” stream of savings is of course fed not exclusively 
from the surplus income of ** the rich ” ; the professional 
and industrial middle classes, and to some slight extent the 
workers, contribute. But the “ flooding ” is distinctly 
due to the automatic saving of the surplus income of rich 
men. This is of course particularly true of America, where 
multi-millionaires rise quickly and find themselves in 
possession of incomes far exceeding the demands of any 
craving that is known to them. To make the metaphor 
complete, the overflow stream must be represented as re- 
entering the stream of production and seeking to empty 
there all the savings ” that it carries. Where competition 
remains free, the result is a^chronic congestion of productive 
^ Tb§ Sigmjican€4 ^ tbt trusty hy H. G. WUihire. 

8 + 


power and of production, forcing down home prices, 
wasting large sums in advertising and in pushing for orders, 
and periodically causing a crisis followed by a collapse, 
during which quantities of capital and labour lie unemployed 
and unremunerated. The prime object of the trust or 
other combine is to remedy this waste and loss by substituting 
regulation of output for reckless over-production. In 
achieving this it actually narrows or even dams up the 
old channels of investment, limiting the overflow stream 
to the exact 'amount required to maintain the normal 
current of output. But this rigid limitation of trade, 
though required for the separate economy of each trust, 
does not suit the trust-maker, who is driven to compensate 
for strictly regulated industry at home by cutting new 
foreign channels as outlets for his productive power and his 
excessive savings. Thus we reach the conclusion that 
Imperialism is the endeavour of the great controllers of 
industry to broaden the channel for the flow of their surplus 
wealth by seeking foreign markets and foreign investments 
to take off the goods and capital Aiey cannot sell or use at 

The fallacy of the supposed inevitability of imperial 
expansion as a necessary outlet for progressive industry 
is now manifest. It is not industrial progress that demands 
the opening up of new markets and areas of investment, 
but mal-distribution of consuming power which prevents 
the absorption of commodities and capital within the 
country. The over-saving which is the economic root 
of Imperialism is found by analysis to consist of rents, 
monopoly profits, and other unearned or excessive elements 
of income, which, not being earned by labour of head or 
hand, have no legitimate raison d^itre. Having no natural 
relation to effort of production, they impel their recipients 
to no corresponding satisfaction of consumption : they 


imperialism: a study 

form a surplus wealth, which, having no proper place in the 
normal economy of production and consumption, tends 
to accuBfiulate as excessive savings. Let any turn in the 
tide of politico-economic forces divert from these owners 
their excess of income and make it flow, either to the 
workers in higher wages, or’ to the community in taxes, so 
that it will be spent instead of being saved, serving in 
either of these ways to swell the tide of consumption — 
there will b^ no need to fight for foreign markets or foreign 
areas of investment. 

Many have carried their analysis so far as to realise the 
absurdity of spending half our financial resources in fighting 
to secure foreign markets at times when hungry mouths, ill- 
clad backs, ill-furnished houses indicate countless unsatisfied 
material wants among our own population. If we may 
take the careful statistics of Mr, Rowntree^ for our guide, 
we shall be aware that more than one-fourth of the popula- 
tion of our towns is living at ^ standard which is below bare 
physical cfiiciency. If, by some economic readjustment, 
the products which flow from the surplus saving of the 
rich tp swell the overflow streams could be diverted so as 
to raise the incomes and the standard of consumption of 
this inefficient fourth, there would be no need for pushful 
Imperialism, and the cause of social reform would have 
won its greatest victory. 

It is not inherent in the nature of things that we should 
spend our natural resources on militarism, war, and risky, 
unscrupulous diplomacy, in order to find markets for our 
goods and surplus capital. An intelligent progressive 
community, based upon substantial equality of economic 
and educational opportunities, will raise its standard of 
consumption to correspond with every increased power 
ol production, and can find full employment for an un- 

^ Pmmty : A Study rf Tmon Lift, 



limited quantity of capital and labour within the limits 
of the country which it occupies. Where the distribution 
of incomes is such as to enable all classes of the nation to 
convert their felt wants into an effective demand for 
commodities, there can be no over-production, no under- 
employment of capital and labour, and no necessity to 
fight for foreign markets. 

The most convincing condemnation of the current 
economy is conveyed in the difficulty whifh producers 
everywhere experience in finding consumers for their 
products : a fact attested by the prodigious growth of 
daises of agents and middlemen, the multiplication of every 
sort of advertising, and the general increase of the dis- 
tributive classes. Under a sound economy the pressure 
would be reversed : the growing wants of progressive 
societies would be a constant stimulus to the inventive and 
operative energies of producers, and would form a constant 
strain upon the powers of production. The simultaneous 
excess of all the factors of production, attested by frequently 
recurring periods of trade depression, is a most dramatic 
exhibition of the false economy of distribution. It does 
not imply a mere miscalculation in the application of 
productive power, or a brief temporary excess of that power ; 
it manifests in an acute form an economic waste which is 
chronic and general throughout the advanced industrial 
nations, a waste contained in the divorcement of the desire 
to consume and the power to consume. 

If the apportionment of income were such as to evoke 
no excessive saving, full constant employment for capital 
and labour would be furnished at home. This, of course, 
does not imply that there would be no foreign trade. Goods 
that could not be produced at home, or produced as well 
0f as cheaply, would ^ill be purchased by ordinary process 
of international exchange, but here again the pressure 



would be the wholesome pressure of the consumer anxious 
to buy abroad what he could not buy at home, not the 
blind eagerness of the producer to use every force or trick 
of trade or politics to find markets for his “ surplus ” 

The struggle for markets, the greater eagerness of pro- 
ducers to sell than of consumers to buy, is the crowning 
proof of a false economy of distribution. Imperialism 
is the fruit \)f this false economy ; “ social reform ” is its 
remedy. The primary purpose of social reform,” using 
the term in its economic signification, is to raise the whole- 
some standard of private and public consumption for a 
nation, so as to enable the nation to live up to its highest 
standard of production. Even those social reformers who 
aim directly at abolishing or reducing some bad form of 
consumption, as in the Temperance movement, generally 
recognise the necessity of substituting some better form 
of current consumption which is more educative and 
stimulative of other tastes, and will assist to raise the 
general standard of consumption. 

' There is no necessity to open up new foreign markets ; 
the home markets are capable of indefinite expansion. 
Whatever is produced in England can be consumed in 
England, provided that the income ” or power to demand 
commodities, is properly distributed. This only appears 
untrue because of the unnatural and unwholesome specialisa- 
tion to which this country has been subjected, based 
upon a bad distribution of economic resources, which has 
induced an overgrowth of certain manufacturing trades 
for the express purpose of effecting foreign sales. If the 
industrial revolution had taken place in an England founded 
upon equal access by all classes to land, education and 
legislation, specialisation i\i manufactures would not have 
gone so far (though more intelligent progress would have 



been made* by reason of a widening of the area of selection 
of inventive and organising talents) ; foreign trade would 
have been less important, though more steady ; the standard 
of life for all portions of the population would have been 
high, and the^ present rate of national consumption would 
probably have given full, constant, remunerative employ- 
ment to a far larger quantity of private and public capital 
than is now employed.^ For the over-saving or wider 
consumption that is traced to excessive incomes of the 
rich is a suicidal economy, even from the exclusive standpoint 
of capital ; for consumption alone vitalises capital and makes 
it capable of yielding profits. An economy that assigns 
to the “ possessing ” classes an excess of consuming power 
which they cannot use, and cannot convert into really 
serviceable capital, is a dog-in-the-manger policy. The 
social reforms which deprive the possessing classes of their 
surplus will not, therefore, inflict upon them the real injury 
they dread ; they can only^use this surplus by forcing on 
their country a wrecking policy of Imperialism. The only 
safety of nations lies in removing the unearned increments 
of income from the possessing classes, and adding them *to 
the wage-income of the working classes or to the public 
income, in order that they may be spent in raising the 
standard of consumption. 

Social reform bifurcates, according as reformers seek to 
achieve this end by raising wages or by increasing public 
ta:jtation and expenditure. These courses are not essentially 

^ The classical economists of England, forbidden by their theories of parsimony 
and of the growth of capital to entertain the notion of an indefinite expansion 
of home markets by reason of a constantly rising standard of national comfort, 
were early driven to countenance a doctrine of the necessity of finding external 
markets for the investment of capital. So J. S. Mill : ** The eApansion of* capital 
would soon reach its ultimate boundary if the boundary itself did not continually 
open and leave more space ** {Tolitical Ei^nomy), And before him Ricardo (in 
a letter to Malthus) : ** If with every accumulation of capiul we could take a 
piece of fresh fertile land to our island, profits would never fall.” 

imperialism: a study 

contradictory, but arc rather complementary.^ Working- 
class movements aim, either by private co-operation or by 
political pressure on legislative and administrative govern- 
ment, at increasing the proportion of the national income 
which accrues to labour in the form of wages, pensions, 
compensation for injuries, etc. State Socialism aims at 
getting for the direct use of the whole society an increased 
share of the “ social values which arise from the closely 
and essentially co-operative work of an industrial society, 
taxing property and incomes so as to draw into the public 
exchequer for public expenditure the ‘‘ unearned elements 
of income, leaving to individual producers those incomes 
which are necessary to induce them to apply in the best 
way their economic energies, and to private enterprises 
those businesses which do not breed monopoly, and which 
the public need not or cannot undertake. These are not, 
indeed, {he sole or perhaps the best avowed objects of social 
reform movements. But for^the purposes of this analysis 
they form the kernel. 

Trade Unionism and • Socialism are thus the natural 
enemies of Imperialism, for they take away from the 
“ imperialist ” classes the surplus incomes which form the 
economic stimulus of Imperialism. 

This does not pretend to be a final statement of the full 
relations of these forces. When we come to political 
analysis we shall perceive that the tendency of Imperialism 
is to crush Trade Unionism and to nibble ” at or 
parasiticaUy exploit State Socialism. But, confining our- 
selves for the present to the narrowly economic setting, 
Trade Unionism and State Socialism may be regarded as 
complementary forces arrayed against Imperialism, in as 
far as, by diverting to working-class or public expenditure 
elements of income which would otherwise be surplus 
savings, they raise the general standard of home consumption 



and abate the pressure for foreign markets. Of course, if the 
increase of working-class income were wholly or chiefly 
saved,” not spent, or if the taxation of unearned incomes 
were utilised for the relief of other taxes borne by the 
possessing classes, no such result as we have described 
would follow. There is, however, no reason to anticipate 
this result from trade-union or socialistic measures. 
Though no sufficient natural stimulus exists ^to force the 
well-to-do classes to spend in further luxuries the surplus 
incomes which they save, every working-class family is 
subject to powerful stimuli of economic needs, and a reason- 
ably governed State would regard as its prime duty the 
relief of the present poverty of public life by new forms of 
socially useful expenditure. 

But we are not here concerned with what belongs to the 
practical issues of political and economic policy. It is the 
economic theory for which we claim acceptance — a theory 
which, if accurate, dispels the delusion that expansion of 
foreign trade, and therefore of empire, is a necessity of 
national life. * 

Regarded from the standpoint of economy of energy, 
the same “ choice of life ” confronts the nation as the 
individual. An individual may expend all his energy in 
acquiring external possessions, adding field to field, barn 
to barn, factory to factory — may “ spread himself ” over 
the widest area of property, amassing material wealth 
which is in some sense himself ” as containing the impress 
of his power and interest. He does this by specialising 
upon the lower acquisitive plane of interest at the cost 
of neglecting the cultivation of the higher qualities and 
interests of his nature. The antagonism is not indeed 
absolute. Aristotle has said, “ We must first secure a 

' f 

livelihood and then practise virtue.” Hence the pursuit 
of material property as a reasonable basis of physical comfort 


imperialism: a study 

would be held true economy by the wisest men ; but the 
absorption of time, energy, and interest upon such quantita- 
tive expansion at the necessary cost of starving the higher 
tastes and faculties is condemned as false economy. The 
same issue comes up in the business life of the individual : 
it is the question of intensive versus extensive cultivation. 
A rude or ignorant farmer, where land is plentiful, is apt 
to spread l^s capital and labour over a large area, taking 
in new tracts and cultivating them poorly. A skilled, 
scientific farmer will study a smaller patch of land, cultivate 
it thoroughly, and utilise its diverse properties, adapting it 
to the speciiil needs of his most remunerative markets. 
The same is true of other businesses ; even where the 
economy of large-scale production is greatest there exists 
some limit beyond which the wise business man will not go, 
aware that in doing so he will risk by enfeebled management 
what he seems to gain by mechanical economies of production 
and market. « 

Everywhere the issue of quantitative versus qualitative 
growth comes up. This is the entire issue of empire. A 
people limited in number and energy and in the land they 
occupy have the choice of improving to the utmost the 
political and economic management of their own land, 
confining themselves to such accessions of territory as are 
justified by the most economical disposition of a growing 
population ; or they may proceed, like the slovenly farmer, 
to spread their power and energy over the whole earth, 
tempted by the speculative value or the quick profits of 
some new market, or else by mere greed of territorial 
acquisition, and ignoring the political and economic wastes 
and risks involved by this imperial career. It must be 
clearly understood that this is essentially a choice of alterna- 
tives ; a full simultaneous application of intensive and 
extensive cultivation is impossible. A nation may either, 



following the example of Denmark or Switzerland, put 
brains into agriculture, develop a finely varied system of 
public education, general and technical, apply the ripest 
science to its special manufacturing industries, and so support 
in progressive comfort and character a considerable popula- 
tion upon a strictly limited area ; or it may, like Great 
Britain, neglect its agriculture, allowing its lands*^to go 
out of cultivation and its population to grownup in towns, 
fall behind other nations in its methods of education and 
in the capacity of adapting to its uses the latest scientific 
knowledge, in order that it may squander its pecuniary 
and military resources in forcing bad markets and finding 
speculative fields of investment in distant corners of the 
earth, adding millions of square miles and of unassimilable 
population to the area of the Empire. 

The driving forces of class interest which stimulate and 
support this false economy we have explained. No remedy 
will serve which permits the future operation of these forces. 
It is idle to attack Imperialism or Militarism as political 
expedients or policies unless the axe is laid at the economic 
root of the tree, and the classes for whose interest Im- 
perialism works are shorn of the surplus revenues which 
seek this outlet. 




T he analysis of economic forces in the foregoing chapter 
explain? the character which public finance assumes 
in States committed to an imperialist policy. Imperialism, 
as we see, implies the use of the machinery of government 
by private interests, mainly capitalists, to secure for them 
economic gains outside their country. The dominance cf 
this factor in public ^licy imposes a special character 
alike upon expenditure and taxation. 

The accompanying diagram^ brings into clear light the 
main features of the national expenditure of Great Britain 
during the last three decades of the nineteenth century. 

The first feature is the rate of growth of national ex- 
penditure taken as a whole. This growth has been far 
faster than the growth of foreign trade. For whereas the 
average yearly value of our foreign trade for 1870-75, 
amounting to £6^6^000,000^ increased in the period 1895- 
1903 to j^868,ooo,ooo, the average public expenditure 
advanced over the same period from £6$,i6o,ooo to 
^155,660,000. It is far faster than the growth of the 
aggregate national income, which, according to the rough 
estimates of statisticians, advanced during the same period 
from about j^i, 200, 000,000, to j^i, 750,000,000. The rate 
of growth has greatly quickened during the latter half of 
the period in question, for, leaving out of consideration 
war expenditure, the rise of ordinary imperial expenditure 
has been from £S7,^2$yOOh in 1888 to ^^128,600,000 in 1900, 

^ Appendix, p. 379. 



The most salient feature of the diagram is the*small and 
diminishing proportion of the national revenue expended 
for what may be regarded as directly productive purposes 
of government. • Roughly speaking, over two-thirds of the 
money goes for naval and military expenditure, and for the 
payment of military debts, about six shillings in the pound 
being available for education, civil government, aqd the 
dubious policy of grants in aid of local taxatiqp.^ 

The only satisfactory incident disclosed by the table 
was the growing amount and proportion of public money 
spent on education. A substantial part of the sum expended 
as aid to local taxation has simply gone as a dole to landowners. 

The direct military and naval expenditure during the 
period has increased faster than the total expenditure, the 
growth of trade, of national income, or any other general 
indication of national resources. In 1875 army and 
navy cost less than millions out of a total expenditure 
of 65 millions ; in 1903 they'cost nearly 79 millions out of 
a total of 140 millions. 

The enormous expenditure upon the South African war 
was followed by a large permanent increase in these branches 
of expenditure, amounting to an addition of not less than 
^32,000,000 per annum. 

This growth of naval and military expenditure from 
about 25 to 79 millions in a little over a quarter of a century 
is the most significant fact of imperialist finance. The 
financial, industrial, and professional classes, who, we have 
shown, form the economic core of Imperialism, have used 
their political power to extract these sums from the nation 
in order to improve their investments and open up new 
fields for capitd, and to find profitable markets for their 

^A portion of the money expended under the head National Debt »hould, 
however, be regarded ai productively expended, since it has gone towards reduction 
of the debt. Between 1875 «nd 1900 a reduction of ,£140,000,000, equal to 
ihout j£5,Soo,ooo per annum, hat been effected. 


imperialism: a study 

surplus goods, while out of the public sums expended on 
these objects they reap other great private gains in the 
shape of profitable contracts, and lucrative or honourable 

The financial and industrial capitalists who have mainly 
engineered this policy, employing their own genuine con- 
victions to conceal their ill-recognised business ends, have 
also made important bribes or concessions to other less 
directly benefited interests in order to keep their sympathy 
and ensure their support. 

This explains the large and growing grants in aid of local 
taxation, almost the whole of which, interpreted by a 
scientific regard to incidence of taxation, must be considered 
as a subsidy to landowners. The support of the Church 
and of the liquor trade has been more cheaply purchased ; 
the former by relief of rates on tithes and increased grants 
for Church schools, the latter by a policy of masterly 
inaction in the matter of temperance reforms and special 
consideration in regard to taxation. 

In making the capitaQst-imperialist forces the pivot of 
financial policy, I do not mean that other forces, industrial, 
political, and moral, have no independent aims and 
influences, but simply that the former group must be 
regarded as the true determinant in the interpretation of 
actual policy. 

We have identified almost all the organised interests, 
commonly summed under the head of Capitalism, including 
land-capital, with Imperialism. Most of them participate 
directly in one or other of the two sorts of gain which attend 
this policy : the interest, trade profits, or employment 
furnished by the imperialist policy, or the interest, profit, or 
employment connected with military and civil expenditure 

It cannot be too clearly recognised that increasing public 



expenditure, apart from all political justification, is a direct 
source of gain to certain well-organised and influential 
interests, and to all such Imperialism is the chief instrument 
of such increasing expenditure. 

While the directors of this definitely parasitic policy 
are capitalists, the same motives appeal to special classes 
of the workers. In many towns most important tildes 
are dependent upon Government employment cy contracts ; 
the Imperialism of the metal and shipbuilding centres is 
attributable in no small degree to this fact. Members of 
Parliament freely employ their influence to secure con- 
tracts and direct trade to their constituents, and every 
growth of public expenditure enhances this dangerous bias. 

The clearest significance of imperialist finance, however, 
appears on the side, not of expenditure, but of taxation. 
The object of those economic interests which use the public 
purse for purposes of private gain is in large measure de- 
feated if they have first to find* the money to fill that purse. 
To avert the direct incidence of taxation from their own 
shoulders on to those of other classes or of posterity is a 
natural policy of self-defence. 

A sane policy of taxation would derive the whole or the 
main part of the national revenue from unearned increments 
of land values and from profits in trades which, by virtue of 
some legal or economic protection screening them from 
close competition, arc able to earn high rates of interest 
or profit. Such taxation would be borne most easily, 
falling upon unearned elements of incomes, and would cause 
no disturbance of industry. This, however, would imply the 
taxation of precisely those elements which constitute 
the economic taproot of Imperialism. For it is precisely 
the unearned elements of income^ which tend towards an 
automatic process of accumulation, and which, by swelling 
the stream of surplus capital seeking markets of investment 


imperialism: a study 

or markets for the surplus goods it helps to make, direct 
political forces into Imperialism. A sound system of taxation 
would, therefore, stride at the very root of the malady. 

On the other hand, were the capitalist-imperialist forces 
openly to shift the burden of taxation on to the shoulders 
of the people, it would be difficult under popular forms 
of government to operate such an expensive policy. The 
people mus^pay, but they must not know they are paying, 
or how much they are paying, and the payment must be 
spread, over as long a period as possible. 

To take a concrete example. The medley of financial 
and political interests which inveigled Great Britain into 
spending some two hundred millions of public money, in 
order to obtain for them control of the land and mineral 
resources of the South African Republics, could not possibly 
have achieved their object if they had been compelled to 
raise the money by sending round a tax-gatherer to take 
from every citizen in hard cash the several pounds which 
constituted his share of the taxes — the share which by 
more crooked ways was <o be got out of him. 

To support Imperialism by direct taxation of incomes 
or property would be impossible. Where any real forms 
of popular control existed, militarism and wars would be 
impossible if every citizen was made to realise their cost 
by payments of hard cash. Imperialism, therefore, makes 
everywhere for indirect taxation ; not chiefly on grounds 
of convenience, but for purposes of concealment. Or 
perhaps it would be more just to say that Imperialism 
takes advantage of the cowardly and foolish preference 
which the average man everywhere exhibits for being 
tricked out of his contribution to the public funds, using 
this common folly for its own purposes. It is seldom 
possible for any Government, even in the stress of some 
grave emergency, to impose an income-tax ; even a property- 



tax is commonly evaded in cases of personal property, 
and is always unpopular. The case of England is an 
exception which* really proves the rule. 

The repeal of import duties and the establishment 
of Free Trade marked the political triumph of the new 
manufacturing and commercial plutocracy over the land- 
owning aristocracy. Free Trade was so profitable to the 
former classes in securing cheap importation of raw materials, 
and in cheapening the subsistence of labour at ^ time when 
England’s priority in new industrial methods offered an 
indefinitely rapid expansion of trade, that they were willing 
to support the reimposition of the income-tax which Peel 
proposed in 1842 in order to enable him to repeal or reduce 
the import duties. When the sudden financial stress of the 
Crimean war came on the country the Free Trade policy 
was in the prime of its popularity and success, and a Liberal 
ministry, in preference to a reversion to Protection which 
would otherwise have been inevitable, gave permanency to 
the tax, extending the area of its application and making 
its removal more difficult by further repeals of import 
duties. No Government could now remove it, for the 
new unpopularity caused by finding adequate substitutes 
would have outweighed the credit gained by its removal, 
while its productivity and calculability are advantages shared 
in an equal degree by no other mode of taxation. 

Some allowance may also be made for the principles 
and personal convictions of political financiers trained in 
the English science of political economy, and still more 
for the temptation of competing parties to seek the favour 
of the newly enfranchised populace by a well-paraded policy 
of class taxation. The seething revolutionism of the mid- 
century throughout Europe, the rapid growth of huge 
industrial centres throughout England, with their masses of 
Jill-explored poverty and their known aptitude for ignorant 




agitation, made the establishment of formal democracy 
seem a most hazardous experiment, and both parties were 
in a mood to conciliate the new monster by doles or bribery. 
When the break-up of the old Liberal party in 1885-86 
had for the first time thrown the vast preponderance of 
personal property on to the same side as real property, a 
genuinely democratic budget with a progressive income-tax 
and a substantial death duty became possible and seemed 
expedient. *lt is not necessary to deny that Sir William 
Harcourt and his colleagues were sincerely convinced of the 
justice as well as the expediency of this policy ; but it must 
be remembered that no alternative was open, in face of the 
need of increased funds for Imperialism and education, 
except a volte face upon the Free Trade principles they had 
most stoutly championed, and a dangerous attack upon 
trade interests which might recoil upon th^ working classes, 
whose cause they were anxious to espouse. The financial 
attack on “ property,” embodied in the progressive income 
tax and death duties, must be regarded, then, as an excep- 
tional policy, due mainly* to a combination of two causes — 
the difficulty of reverting suddenly to the abandoned 
practice of Protection, and the desire to conciliate the 
favour of the new unknown democracy. 

Hence the anomaly of Imperialism attended by direct 
taxation. ^ In no other country have the political conditions 
operated so. Upon the Continent Militarism and Im- 
perialism have thriven upon indirect taxation, and have 
enabled the agricultural and manufacturing interests to 
defeat easily any movement towards Free Trade by urging 
the needs of revenue through tariffs. In Great Britain it 
seems unlikely that the policy of direct taxation upon 
property and income for imperial purposes will be carried 
any further. The Goverhment of the propertied classes 
has shaken itself free from the traditions of Free Trade ; 



the leaders and the overwhelming majority of the rank 
and file are avowed Protectionists so far as agriculture 
and certain staple industries are concerned. They are no 
longer seriously frightened by the power of the people as 
implied by a popular franchise, nor are they prepared 
to conciliate it by further taxes upon property ; they 
have experimented with the temper of the monster,” 
and they think that by the assistance of “ the trade ” and 
the Church he is quite manageable, and An be cajoled 
into paying for Imperialism through protective duties. 

Panem et circenses ” interpreted into English means 
cheap booze and Mafficking. Popular education, instead of 
serving as a defence, is an incitement towards Imperialism ; 
it lias opened up a panorama of vulgar pride and crude 
sensationalism to a great inert mass who see current history 
and the tangled maze of world movements with dim, 
bewildered eyes, and are the inevitable dupes of the able 
organised interests who can lure, or scare, or drive them 
into any convenient course. 

Had the Liberal party stood hy the principles of peace, 
retrenchment, and reform, refusing to go beyond the true 
“ colonialism ” of such men as Molesworth, and rejecting 
the temptations to a spirited foreign policy ” dictated by 
bond-holders, they might have been able to resist the attack 
upon Free Trade, But a Liberal party committed to a 
militant Imperialism whose rapidly growing expense is 
determined chiefly by the conduct of foreign Powers and 
the new arts of scientific warfare was in a hopeless dilemma. 
Its position as a buffer party between the propertied classes 
organised as Conservatism and the unorganised pressure 
of a loose set of forces striving to become a Socialist labour 
party dictated moderation, and the personnel of its leaders, 
stiU drawn from the propertied classes, prevented it from 
making any bold attempt to work Imperialism upon a basis 


imperialism: a study 

of direct taxation upon property, raising the income and 
proper taxes to cover every increasing need of imperialist 
finance. It had neither the pluck nor the principle to 
renounce Imperialism or to insist that the classes who seek 
to benefit by it shall pay for it. 

There is then no reason to impute to Liberalism either 
the desire or the power to defray the expenses of militant 
Imperialism by a further pursuance of progressive taxation 
of incomes and property. While the conveniences of finance 
may have prevented the repeal of taxation which was So 
productive, it would not be carried further ; when expendi- 
ture is placed again upon a normal footing the income-tax 
would be reduced and all increase of normal expenditure 
(estimated by a statistical authority at ^^20, 000,000 for' 
military services alone) will be defrayed by indirect taxation. 

Now any considerable calculable increase of revenue by 
indirect taxation means the abandonment of Free Trade. 
A large steady income of such a kind can only be raised 
by duties upon imports of necessaries and prime conveniences 
of life and trade. It is of« course quite immaterial to urge 
that taxation for revenue is not Protection. If import 
duties are raised on sugar and tea, if they are imposed 
upon wheat and flour, foreign meat and raw materials of 
our staple manufactures, or upon finished manufactured 
goods competing in our market, it matters not that the 
object be revenue, the' economic effect is Protection. 

It is probable that imperialist finance is not yet prepared 
to admit the name or the full economic policy of Protection.^ 
The preparatory steps can find other names. A counter- 
vailing duty upon beet-sugar poses as an instrument of 
Free Trade : once admitted, it introduces a whole train of 
countervailing duties by parity of reasoning. A tax on 

^ The ensuing diicutuon of Protection relates to the probabilities of the year 
of this study, 1905. 



prison-made goods, on the ground that they are subsidised 
and so produced under “ cost ” price, is logically followed 
by similar protection against all products of sweated ’’ 
foreign industry. An export duty upon coal may well be 
followed by similar duties on the export of engines and 
machinery, which similarly aid the growth of our manu- 
facturing rivals. But the most formidable mask of Protection 
will take the shape of military necessity. A Jjiilitary nation 
surrounded by hostile empires must have within her 
boundaries adequate supplies of the sinews of war, efficient 
recruits, and a large food supply. We cannot safely rely 
upon the fighting capacities of a town-bred population, or 
upon food supplies from foreign lands. Both needs demand 
that checks be set upon the excessive concentration of our 
population in towns, and that a serious attempt be made 
to revive agriculture and restore the people to the soil. 

There are two methods which seem possible. The one 
is a large radical scheme of knd reform interfering with the 
rights of landowners by compulsory purchase or leasing on 
the part of public bodies, with* powers to establish large 
numbers of small farmers on the soil with loans of capital 
sufficient to enable them to live and work upon the soil. 
The other method is Protection, the re-imposition of taxes 
on imported grain, cattle, fruit, and dairy produce, with the 
object of stimulating agriculture and keeping the population 
on the soil. 

Given the political sway of the possessing classes, it is 
certain that the latter course will be preferred. The land- 
owning and the industrial interests are now sufficiently 
blended to render it impossible for the town industrialist 
to refuse assistance to the rural landowner. The dole in 
relief of rates is a convincing: testimony to this truth. 
Political economists may prove that the chief result of 
‘‘ Protection,” in as far as it protects, is to raise the rent 


imperialism: a study 

of land, that a corn tax will raise the price of bread, and by 
raising real wages injure profits, and that if the tax really 
succeeded in stimulating intensive cultivation and self 
sufficiency for food supply it would not assist the revenue. 
The Protectionist will not be dismayed by the contradictory 
positions he is required to hold, for he will be aware that 
the peo|)le whose votes he craves cannot hold two arguments 
in their head^at the same time for purposes of comparison « 

The demand for agricultural protection in order to keep 
upon the soil a peasantry with sound physique and military 
aptitudes is likely to outweigh all economic objections in 
the near future, and it is quite possible that Protection 
may here be tempered by such carefully devised land reforms 
as shall place a new “ yeoman ” class upon British soil, and 
a substantial sum as purchase money plus compensation for’ 
disturbance in the pockets of British landlords. 

One other secret avenue to Protection is through the 
shipbuilding trade. Here is a case not for taxation but for 
bounties. If England is to be strong for contest in war 
and trade she must keep bpen for herself the highways of 
commerce, and must own ships and men adaptable for 
purposes of defence. England’s great foreign trade was 
undoubtedly built up in the first instance by the aid of the 
navigation laws, and the same combination of political 
exigencies and commercial interests will make towards a 
revival of this policy. Such are the main streams of ten- 
dency towards Protection. But there is no reason to 
suppose that the policy will be confined to agriculture, 
sugar and other subsidised imports, export duties upon 
coal, and bounties on shipbuilding. The leading branches of 
the textile, metal, and other staple manufactures whose 
monopoly even in the home market is threatened by the 
progressive industries of Germany, Holland, and the United 
States had long lost that conifident reliance on Free Trade 



which they entertained when England’s paramountcy in 
the manufacturing arts was unquestioned. The local 
specialization of industries places a most formidable weapon 
in the hands .of the protectionist politician. In spite of 
the financial and intellectual aid given to the Free Trade 
movement by certain manufacturing interests, Protection 
stands as the producer’s policy, Free Trade as the con- 
sumer’s. The specialization of localities enables a politician 
to appeal to the separate trade interests of i single town 
or neighbourhood, and to convince not only its capitalists 
but its workers of the gain that would accrue to them if 
their trade was protected against what is termed unfair 
competition of foreigners : nothing is said about what they 
will lose as consumers in the diminished purchasing power 
of their profits and wages, the result of Protection to the 
trades of other localities. This appeal made to the separate 
interests of producers is almost certain to be successful in 
a people of low education a|id intelligence. Any attempt 
to put the other side by representing the result of Protection 
to be a general rise of prices is commonly met by a confident 
denial that this result will follow, though it is commonly 
admitted that wages and profits will rise in the particular 
local trade to whose self-interest the protectionist appeal 
is addressed. 

It is, however, probable that an attempt will be made to 
conceal the whole character of the protectionist policy by 
a misty atmosphere of Imperialism. Protection will not 
be Protection, but Free Trade within the Empire ; a pro- 
tectionist tariff will hide its exclusive side and masquerade 
as an Imperial Zollverein. Great economic changes, 
requiring the use of political machinery, invent that 
machinery. The Imperialism of England, essentially .though 
not exclusively an economic thfng, will strive to cover the 
protective system of finance it favours, by a great political 


imperialism: a study 

achievement, entitled Federation of the Empire. This 
avenue to Protection would in any case have been essayed 
by Imperialism, as indeed the curious attempt of Mr. 
Chamberlain in 1897 testifies. The abnormally rapid 
swelling of financial needs due to the disastrous policy in 
South Africa merely precipitates this policy and gives it 
political occasion. It will be sought to exploit the en* 
thusiastic loyalty of the colonists exhibited in their rally 
round the mother country in the South African war for 
purposes of formal federation on a basis which shall bind 
them to contribute money and men to the protection and 
expansion of the Empire. The probability of success in 
this attempt to secure imperial federation is a matter for 
separate consideration. It is here named as one of the 
avenues to Protection. 

In many ways it thus appears that Protection is the 
natural ally of Imperialism. 

The economic root of Imperialism is the desire of strong 
organized industrial and financial interests to secure and 
develop at the public expense and by the public force 
private markets for their surplus goods and their surplus 
capital. War, militarism, and a “ spirited foreign policy ” 
are the necessary means to this*^end. This policy involves 
large increase of public expenditure. If they had to pay 
the cost of this policy out of their own pockets in taxation 
upon incomes and property, the game would not be worth 
the candle, at any rate as far as markets for commodities 
arc concerned. They must find means of putting the 
expense upon the general public. But in countries where 
a popular franchise and representative government exist 
this cannot be successfully done in an open manner. Taxa- 
tion must be indirect and must fall upon such articles of 
consumption or general ilse as are part of the general 
standard of consumption and will not shrink in demand 



or give way to substitutes under the process of taxation. 
This protection not only serves the purposes of imperial 
finance, taxing the impotent and ignorant consumer for 
the imperial gains of the influential economic interests, but 
it seems to furnish them a second gain by securing to them 
as producers their home market which is threatened by 
outside competition, and enabling them to raise their prices 
to the home consumers and so reap a rise of j^rofits. To 
those who regard foreign trade in its normal condition as 
a fair interchange of goods, and services, it may seem difficult 
to understand how these economic interests expect to 
exclude foreign goods from their market, while at the same 
time pushing their goods in foreign markets. But we must 
remind such economists that the prime motive force here 
is not trade but investment : a surplus of exports over 
imports is sought as the most profitable mode of investment, 
and when a nation, or more strictly its investing classes, 
is bent on becoming a credi^r or parasitic nation to an 
indefinite extent, there is no reason why its imports and 
exports should balance even over a long term of years. The 
whole struggle of so-called Imperialism upon its economic 
side is towards a growing parasitism, and the classes engaged 
in this struggle require Protection as their most serviceable 

The nature and object of Protection as a branch of 
imperialist finance is best illustrated in the case of Great 
Britain, because the necessity of subverting an accepted 
Free Trade policy lays bare the different methods of Pro- 
tection and the forces upon which it relies. In other 
nations committed to or entering upon an imperialist career 
with the same ganglia of economic interests masquerading 
as patriotism, civilization, and the like, Protection has been 
the traditional finance, and it his only been necessary to 
extend it and direct it into the necessary channels. 


imperialism: a study 

Protection, however, is not the only appropriate financial 
method of Imperialism. There is at any given time some 
limit to the quantity of current expenditure which can be 
met by taxing consumers. The policy of Imperialism to 
be effective requires at times the outlay of large unforeseen 
sums on war and military equipment. These cannot be 
met by current taxation. They must be treated as capital 
expenditure^ the payment of which may be indefinitely 
deferred or provided by a slow and suspensible sinking fund. 

The creation of public debts is a normal and a most 
imposing feature of Imperialism. Like Protection, it also 
serves a double purpose, not only furnishing a second means 
of escaping taxation upon income and property otherwise 
inevitable, but providing a most useful form of investment 
for idle savings waiting for more profitable employment. 
The creation of large growing public debts is thus not only 
a necessary consequence of an imperialist expenditure too 
great for its current revenue, or of some sudden forced 
extortion of a war indemnity or other public penalty. It 
is a direct object of iifiperialist finance to create further 
debts, just as it is an object of the private money-lender 
to goad his clients into pecuniary difficulties in order that 
they may have recourse to him. Analysis of foreign invest- 
ments shows that public or State-guaranteed debts are 
largely held by investors and financiers of other nations ; 
and history shows, in the cases of Egypt, Turkey, China, 
the hand of the bond-holder, and of the potential bond- 
holder, in politics. This method of finance is not only 
profitable in the case of foreign nations, where it is a chief 
instrument or pretext for encroachment. It is of service 
to the financial classes to have a large national debt of their 
own. The floating of and the dealing in such public loans 
are a profitable business, and are means of exercising 
important political influences at critical junctures. Where 



floating capital constantly tends to excess, further debts 
are serviceable as a financial drainage scheme. 

Imperialism with its wars and its armaments is undeniably 
responsible for the growing debts of the continental nations, 
and while the unparalleled industrial prosperity of Great 
Britain and the isolation of the United States have enabled 
these great nations to escape this ruinous competition 
during recent decades, the period of their immunity is over ; 
both, committed as they seem to an Imperialism without 
limit, will succumb more and more to the moneylending 
classes dressed as Imperialists and patriots.^ 

^ The later paiiagei of thii chapter deicribing the probable plunge towards 
Protection are left as written in 1901, two years before Mr. Chamberlain's dramatic 
espousal of a full Protection. 







T he curious ignorance which prevails regarding the 
political character and tendencies of Imperialism 
cannot be better illustrated than by the following passage 
from a learned work upon “ The History of Colonization : 
“ The extent of British dominion may perhaps be better 
imagined than described, when the fact is appreciated that, 
of the entire land surface of the globe, approximately one- 
fifth is actually or theoretically under that flag, while more 
than one-sixth of all the humati beings living in this planet 
reside under one or the other type of English colonization. 
The names by which authority is* exerted arc numerous, 
and processes are distinct, but the goals to which this mani- 
fold mechanism is working are very similar. According 
to the climate, the natural conditions and the inhabitants 
of the regions affected, procedure and practice differ. The 
means are adapted to the situation ; there is not any irrevo- 
cable, immutable line of policy ; from time to time, from 
decade to decade, English statesmen have applied different 
treatments to the same territory. Only one fixed rule of 
action seems to exist ; it is to promote the interests of the 
colony to the utmost, to develop its scheme of government 
as rapidly as possible, and eventually to elevate it from, the 
position of inferiority to that of^ association. Under the 
charm of this beneficent spirit the chief colonial establish- 

* Moitu, Tol. it, p. So. 


imperialism: a study , 

ments of Great Britain have already achieved substantial 
freedom, without dissolving nominal ties ; the other 
subordinate possessions are aspiring to it, while, on the 
other hand, this privilege of local independence has enabled 
England to assimilate with ease many feudatory States 
into the body politic of her system.” Here then is the 
theory that Britons are a race endowed, like the Romans, 
with a geiyus for government, that our colonial and im- 
perial policy is animated by a resolve to spread throughout 
the world the arts of free self-government which we enjoy 
at home,^ and that in truth we are accomplishing this work. 

Now, without discussing here the excellencies or the 
defects of the British theory and practice of representative 
self-government, to assert that our fixed rule of action ” 
has been to educate our dependencies in this theory and 
practice is quite the largest misstatement of the facts of 
our colonial and imperial policy that is possible. Upon the 
vast majority of the populations throughout our Empire we 
have bestowed no real powers of self-government, nor have 
we any serious intention of doing so, or any serious belief 
that it is possible for us to do so. 

Of the three hundred and sixty-seven millions of British 
subjects outside these isles, not more than eleven millions, 
or one in thirty-four, have any real self-government for 
purposes of legislation and administration.^ 

Political freedom, and civU freedom, so far as it rests upon 
the other, are simply non-existent for the overwhelming 
majority of British subjects. In the self-governing colonies 
of Australasia and North America alone is responsible 
representative government a reality, and even there con- 
siderable populations of outlanders, as in West Australia, 

^ ** The British Empire is a ga&axy of free States,’* said Sir W. Laurier in a 
speech, July 8, 1902. 

* Figures for the period of this study, ca. 1903. 



or servile labour, as in Queensland, have tempered the 
genuineness of democracy. In Cape Colony and Natal 
events testify how feebly the forms and even the spirit of 
the free British institutions have taken root in States where 
the great majority of the population were always excluded 
from political rights. The franchise and the rights it carries 
remain virtually a white monopoly in so-called self-governing 
colonies, where the coloured population was, in 1903, to the 
white as four to one and ten to one respectiv^y. 

In certain of our older Crown colonies there exists a 
representative element in the government. While the 
administration is entirely vested in a governor appointed 
by the Crown, assisted by a council nominated by him, the 
colonists elect a portion of the legislative assembly. The 
following colonies belong to this order : Jamaica, Barbados, 
Trinidad, Bahamas, British Guiana, Windward Islands, 
Bermudas, Malta, Mauritius, Ceylon. 

The representative element differs considerably in size and 
influence in these colonies, but nowhere does it out-number 
the non-elected element. It thus becomes an advisory 
rather than a really legislative factor. Not merely is the 
elected always dominated in numbers by the non-elected 
element, but in all cases the veto of the Colonial Office 
is freely exercised upon measures passed by the assemblies. 
To this it should be added that in nearly all cases a fairly 
high property qualification is attached to the franchise, 
precluding the coloured people from exercising an elective 
power proportionate to their numbers and their stake in 
the country. 

The entire population of these modified Crown colonies 
amounted to 5,700,000 in 1898.^ 

The overwhelming majority of the subjects of the British 

^ In all eitential features India and Egypt are (1903} to be classed as Crown 
' colonies. 



imperialism: a study 

Empire arc under Crown colony government, or under 
protectorates.^ In neither case do they enjoy any of the 
important political rights of British citizens ; in neither 
case are they being trained in the arts of free British institu- 
tions. In the Crown colony the population exercises no 
political privileges. The governor, appointed by the 
Colonial Office, is absolute, alike for legislation and adminis- 
tration ; he is aided by a council of local residents usually 
chosen by l^mself or by home authority, but its function 
is merely advisory, and its advice can be and frequently 
is ignored. In the vast protectorates we have assumed in 
Africa and Asia there is no tincture of British representative 
government ; the British factor consists in arbitrary acts of 
irregular interference with native government. Exceptions 
to this exist in the case of districts assigned to Chartered 
Companies, where business men, animated avowedly by 
business ends, are permitted to exercise arbitrary powers of 
government over native populations under the imperfect 
check of some British Imperial Commissioner. 

Again, in certain native and feudatory States of India 
our Empire is virtually confined to government of foreign 
relations, military protection, and a veto upon grave internal 
disorder, the real administration of the countries being left 
in the hands of native princes or headmen. However 
excellent this arrangement may be, it lends little support 
to the general theory of the British Empire as an educator of 
free political institutions. 

Where British government is real, it does not carry 
freedom or self-government ; where it does carry a certain 
amount of freedom and self-government, it is not real. 
Not five per cent, of the population of our Empire are 
possessed of any appreciable portion of the political and 
civil liberties which are %he basis of British civilization. 

^ Situation in 1903. 



Outside the eleven millions of British subjects in Canada, 
Australia, and New Zealand, no considerable body is 
endowed with full self-government in the more vital matters, 
or being elevated from the position of inferiority to 
that of association.”^ 

This is the most important of all facts for students of the 
present and probable future of the British Empire. We 
have taken upon ourselves in these little islands the respon- 
sibility of governing huge aggregations of lower races in 
all parts of the world by methods which are antithetic to the 
methods of government which we most value for ourselves. 

The question just here is not whether we are governing 
these colonies and subject races well and wisely, better 
than they could govern themselves if left alone, or better 
than another imperial European nation could govern them, 
but whether we are giving them those arts of government 
which we regard as our most valuable possessions. 

The statement in the paasage which we quoted, that 
underneath the fluctuations of our colonial policy through- 
out the nineteenth century lay the “ fixed rule ” of educating 
the dependencies for self-government, is so totally and 
manifestly opposed to historical records and to the testimony 
of loyal colonial politicians in all our colonies as to deserve 
no further formal refutation. The very structure of our 
party government, the ignorance or open indifference of 
colonial ministers of the elder generations, the biassed play 
of colonial cliques and interests, reduced the whole of our 
colonial government for many decades to something between 
a see-saw and a game of chance : the nearest approach to 
any ** fixed rule ” was the steady prolonged pressure of 
some commercial interest whose political aid was worth 
purchase. That any such ‘‘ beneficent spirit ” as is recorded 

^ All the facts and figures given here and elsewhere relate to the period of this 
study, 1903. 


imperialism: a study 

consciously presided over the policy applied to any class of 
colonies during the larger half of the nineteenth century is 
notoriously false. To those statesmen to whom the colonies 
were not a tiresome burden, they were a useful dumping- 
ground for surplus population, including criminals, paupers 
and ne’er-do-weels, or possible markets for British trade, 
A few more liberal-minded politicians, such as Sir W, 
Molesworth apd Mr. Wakefield, regarded with sympathetic 
interest the rising democracies of Australasia and Canada. 
But the idea of planning a colonial policy inspired by the 
motive of teaching the arts of free representative self- 
government not merely was not the ‘‘ fixed rule,” but was 
not present as a rule at all for any responsible Colonial 
Secretary in Great Britain. 

When the first dawn of the new Imperialism in the 
seventies gave fuller political consciousness to ** empire,” it 
did indeed become a commonplace of Liberal thought that 
England’s imperial mission was to spread the arts of free 
government, and the examples of Australia and Canada 
looming big before all eyes suggested that we were doing 
this. The principles and practices of representative govern- 
ment were ‘‘ boomed ” ; Liberal pro-consuls set on foot 
imposing experiments in India and in the West Indies ; 
the progress of the South African colonies suggested that 
by fairly rapid degrees the various populations of the 
.Empire might attain substantial measures of self-govern- 
ment ; and the larger vision of a British Empire, consisting 
in the main or altogether of a union of self-governing States, 
began to dazzle politicians. 

Some persons-^though a diminishing number — still 
entertain these notions and believe that we are gradually 
moulding the British Empire into a set of substantially 
self-governing States. Our^ position in India is justified, 
they think, by the training we are giving the natives in good 



government, and when they hear of “ representative ” 
elements in the government of Ceylon or of Jamaica they 
flatter themselves that the whole trend of imperial govern- 
ment is directed to this end. Admitting the facts regarding 
the small proportion of present political liberty throughout 
the Empire, they urge that this arises from the necessary 
regard we have to the mode of educating lower races ; the 
vast majority of our subjects are “ children ” and must 
be trained slowly and carefully in the arts ^f responsible 

Now such persons are suffering from a great and demon- 
strable delusion if they suppose that any appreciable number 
of the able energetic officials who practically administer our 
Empire from Downing Street, or on the spot, either believe 
that the populations which they rule are capable of being 
trained for effective free self-government, or are appreciably 
affected in their policy by any regard to such a contingency 
in the near or remote future^ Very few British officials any 
longer retain the notion that we can instruct or are success- 
fully instructing the great populations of India in the 
Western arts of government. The general admission or 
conviction is that experiments in municipal and other 
government conducted under British control on British lines 
are failures. The real success of our Indian Government 
admittedly consists in good order and justice administered 
autocratically by able British officials. There is some 
training of native officials for subordinate, ahd in rare 
instances for high offices, but there is no pretence that this 
is the chief or an important aim or end, nor is there the 
least intention that these native officials shall in the future 
become the servants of the free Indian nation rather than of 
the bureaucratic Imperial Government. 

In other instances, as in Egjpt, we have used natives for 
certain administrative work, and this training in lower offices 


imperialism: a study 

is doubtless not without its value. Our practical success 
in preserving order, securing justice and developing the 
material resources of many of our colonies has been largely 
due to the fact that we have learnt to employ native agents 
wherever possible for detailed work of administration, and 
to adapt our government, where it can be safely done, to 
native conditions. The retention of native laws and 
customs or of the foreign system of jurisprudence imposed 
by earlier colonists of another race,^ while it has complicated 
government in the final court of the Privy Council, has 
greatly facilitated the detailed work of administration 
upon the spot. 

Indeed the variety, not only of laws but of other modes 
of government in our Empire, arouses the enthusiastic 
admiration of many students of its history. “ The British 
Empire,” we are told, ‘‘ exhibits forms and methods of 
government in almost exuberant variety. The several 
colonies at different times of. their history have passed 
through various stages of government, and in 1891 there 
are some thirty or forty different forms operating simul- 
taneously within our Empire alone. At this moment there 
are regions where government of a purely despotic kind is 
in full exercise, and the Empire includes also colonies where 
the subordination of the colonial government has become 
80 slight as to be almost impalpable.”* 

' ** Every country conquered or ceded to the Crown of England retaini tuch 
laws and tuch rules of law (not inconsistent with the general law of England 
affecting dependencies) as were in force at the time of the conquest or cession, 
until they are repealed by competent authority. Now, inasmuch as many 
independent States and many dependent colonies of other States have become 
English dependencies, many of the English dependencies have retained wholly 
or in part foreign systexns of jurisprudence. Tjhus Trinidad retains much of the 
Spanish law ; Demarara, Cape of Good Hope, and Ceylon retain much of the 
Dutch law ; Lower Canada retains the French civil law according to the 
** coutume de Paris ” ; Sn Lucia retail^ the old French law as it existed when the 
island belonged to France (Lewis, Government of Dependencies, p. 198). 

* Caldecott, English Colonization and Empire, p. ixi. 



Whether this is a striking testimony to the genius for 
elasticity ” of our colonial policy, or an instance of 
haphazard opportunism, one need not here discuss.^ 

The point is that an examination of this immense variety 
of government disposes entirely of the suggestion that by 
the extension of our Empire we have been spreading the 
type of free government which is distinctively British, 

The present condition of the government under which the 
vast majority of our fellow-subjects in the ifinpire live is 
eminently un-British in that it is based, not on the consent 

* What ** elasticity ’* actually signifies in Colonial Office government may 
be illustrated by the following testimony of Miss Kingsley in regard to West 
Africa. ** Before taking any important steps the West African governor ii 
supposed to consult the officials at the Colonial Office, but as the Colonial Office 
is not so well informed as the governor himself is, this can be no help to him if 
he is a really able man, and no check on him if he is not an able man. For, be 
he what he may, he is the representative of the Colonial Office ; he cannot, it 
is true, persuade the Colonial Office to go and involve itself in rows with European 
continental Powers, because the Office Jknows about them ; but if be is a strong- 
minded man with a fad, he can persuade the Colonial Office to let him try that 
fad on the natives or the traders, because the Colonial Office does not know the 
natives nor the West African trade. You see, therefore, you have in the governor 
of a West African possession a man in a bad position. He is aided by no council 
worth having, no regular set of experts ; he is held in by another council equally 
non-expert, except in the direction of continental politics. ... In addition to 
the governor there are the other officials, medical, legal, secretarial, constabulary, 
and customs. The majority of them are engaged in looking after each other and 
clerking. Clerking is the breath of the Crown colony system, and customs what 
it feeds on. Owing to the climate it is practically necessary to have a double 
staff in all these departments — that is what the system would have if it were 
perfect ; as it is, some official’s work is always being done by a subordinate ; it 
may be equally well done, but it is not equally well paid for, and there is no 
continuity in policy in any department, except those which arc entirely clerk, 
and the expense of this is necessarily great. The main evil of this want of 
continuity is, of course, in the governors — a governor goes out, starts a new line 
of policy, goes home on furlough leaving in charge the colonial secretary, who 
does not by any means always feel enthusiastic towards that policy, so it languishes. 
The governor comes back, goes at it again like a giant refreshed, but by no means 
better acquainted with local affairs for having been away ; then he goes home 
again or dies, or gets a new appointment ; a brand-new governor comes out, 
he starts a new line of policy, perhaps has a new colonial secretary into the bargain : 
anyhow the thing goes on wavering, not advancing. The only desci'iption I 
have heard of our policy in West African cqlonies that seems to me to do it justice 
is that given by a medical friend of mine, who said it was a coma accompanied 
by fits.” — (fFest African Studies^ pp. 328-330). 


imperialism: a study 

of the governed, but upon the will of imperial officials ; it 
does indeed betray a great variety of forms, but they agree 
in the essential of un-freedom. Nor is it true that any of 
the more enlightened methods of administration we employ 
are directed towards undoing this character. Not only 
in India, but in the West Indies, and wherever there exists 
a large preponderance of coloured population, the trend, 
not merely of ignorant, but of enlightened public opinion, 
is against a genuinely representative government on British 
lines. It is perceived to be incompatible with the economic 
and social authority of a superior race. 

When British authority has been forcibly fastened upon 
large populations of alien race and colour, with habits of 
life and thought which do not blend with ours, it is found 
impossible to graft the tender plants of free representative 
government, and at the same time to preserve good order in 
external affairs. We are obliged in practice to make a choice 
between good order and justice administered autocratically 
in accordance vrith British standards, on the one hand, and 
delicate, costly, doubtful, and disorderly experiments in 
self-government on British lines upon the other, and wc 
have practically everywhere decided to adopt the former 
alternative. A third and sounder method of permitting 
large liberty of self-government under a really loose pro- 
tectorate, adopted in a few instances, as in Basutoland, 
part of Bechuanaland, and a few Indian States, meets with 
no great favour and in most instances seems no longer 
feasible. It cannot be too clearly recognised that the old 
Liberal notion of our educating lower races in the arts of 
popular government is discredited, and only survives for 
platform purposes when some new step of annexation is 
urged upon the country. 

The case of Egypt is a focus classicus. Here we entered 
the country under the best auspices, as deliverers rather 



than as conquerors ; we undoubtedly conferred great 
economic benefits upon large sections of the people, who 
are not savages, but inheritors of ancient civilised traditions. 
The whole exiting machinery of government is virtually 
at our disposal, to modify it according to our will. We 
have reformed taxation, improved justice, and cleansed the 
public services of many corruptions, and claim in many 
ways to have improved the condition of thg fellaheen. 
But are we introducing British political institutions in such 
wise as to graft them on a nation destined for progress in 
self-government ? 

The following statement of Lord Milner may be regarded 
as typical, not of the fossilised, old-world official, but of the 
modern, more enlightened, practical Imperialist ; — 

“ I attach much more importance, in the immediate 
future of Egypt, to the improvement of the character and 
intelligence of the official class than I do to the development 
of the representative institutions with which we endowed the 
country in 1883. As a true born Briton {sief)^ I, of course 
take off my hat to everything that calls itself Franchise, 
Parliament, Representation of the People, the Voice of the 
Majority, and all the rest of it. But, as an observer of the 
actual condition of Egyptian society, I cannot shut my eyes 
to the fact that popular government, as we understand it, 
is for a longer time than any one can foresee at present out 
of the question. The people neither comprehend it nor 
desire it. They would come to singular grief if they had it. 
And nobody, except a few silly theorists, thinks of giving 
it to them.”^ 

Yet here we went into this country upon the express 
understanding that we should do precisely what Lord 
Milner says we have no intention of doing, viz. teach the 
1 England in Egypt^ pp. 378, 379. 



people to govern themselves within the space of a few 
years and then leave them to work their government. 

I am not here, however, concerned to discuss either 
the value of the governmental work which we are doing 
or our right to impose our authority upon weaker popula- 
tions. But the fact is plain that the British Empire is not 
to any appreciable extent a training ground in the British 
arts of free government. 

In the light of this inquiry, directed to the Empire as a 
whole, how do we regard the new Imperialism ? Almost 
the whole of it, as we have seen, consists of tropical or 
sub-tropical territory, with large populations of savages or 
“ lower races ” ; little of it is likely, even in the distant 
future, to increase the area of sound colonial life. In the 
few places where English colonists can settle, as in parts of the 
South African States, they will be so largely outnumbered 
by dark populations as to render the adoption of free 
representative government ‘impracticable. 

In a single word, the New Imperialism has increased the 
area of British despotism, far outbalancing the progress in 
population and in practical freedom attained by our few 
democratic colonies. 

It has not made for the spread of British liberty and for 
the propagation of our arts of government. The lands 
and populations which we have annexed we govern, in so 
far as we govern them at all, by distinctively autocratic 
methods, administered chiefly from Downing Street, but 
partly from centres of colonial government, in cases where 
self-governing colonies have been permitted to annex. 


Now this large expansion of British political despotism 
is fraught with reactions upon home politics which are 



deserving of most serious consideration. A curious blind-* 
ness seems to beset the mind of the average educated 
Briton when he is asked to picture to himself our colonial 
Eripire. Almost instinctively he visualises Canada, Austra- 
lasia, and South Africa — ^the rest he virtually ignores. Yet 
the Imperialism which is our chief concern, the expansion 
of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, has nothing 
in common with Canada and Australasia, and ^ry little 
with “ white man’s Africa.” 

When Lord Rosebery uttered his famous words about 
‘‘ a free, tolerant and unaggressive Empire,” he can scarcely 
have had in mind our vast encroachments in West and 
Central Africa, in the Soudan, on the Burmese frontier, 
or in Matabcleland. But the distinction between genuine 
Colonialism and Imperialism, important in itself, is vital 
when we consider their respective relations to domestic 

Modern British colonialism hifs heen no drain upon our 
material and moral resources, because it has made for the 
creation of free white democracies, a policy of informal 
federation, of decentralisation, involving no appreciable 
strain upon the governmental faculties of Great Britain. 
Such federation, whether it remains informal with the 
slight attachment of imperial sovereignty which now exists, 
or voluntarily takes some more formal shape, political or 
financial, may well be regarded as a source of strength, 
political and military. 

Imperialism is the very antithesis of this free, wholesome 
colonial connection, making, as it ever does, for greater 
complications of foreign policy, greater centralisation of 
power, and a congestion of business which ever threatens 
to absorb and overtax the capacity of parliamentary 
government. * 

The true political nature of Imperialism is best seen 


imperialism: a study 

hj confronting it with the watchwords of progress accepted 
in the middle of the nineteenth century by moderate men 
of both great parties in the State, though with interpreta- 
tions, varying in degree — peace, economy, reform, and 
popular self-government. Even now we find no formal 
abandonment of the principles of government these 
terms express, and a large section of professed Liberals 
believe Qr assert that Imperialism is consistent with the 
maintenance of all these virtues. 

This contention, however, is belied by facts. The 
decades of Imperialism have been prolific in wars ; most 
of these wars have been directly motived by aggression 
of white races upon ** lower races,” and have issued in 
the forcible seizure of territory. Every one of the steps 
of expansion in Africa, Asia, and the Pacific has been 
accompanied by bloodshed ; each imperialist Power keeps 
an increasing army available for foreign service ; rectification 
of frontiers, punitive expeditions, and other euphemisms for 
war have been in incessant progress. The Pax Britannica^ 
always an impudent falsehood, has become a grotesque 
monster of hypocrisy ; along our Indian frontiers, in West 
Africa, in the Soudan, in Uganda, in Rhodesia fighting has 
been^ well-nigh incessant. Although the great imperialist 
Powers kept their hands off one another, save where the rising 
empire of the United States found its opportunity in the 
falling empire of Spain, the self-restraint has been costly 
and precarious. Peace as a national policy is antagonized 
not merely by war, but by militarism, an even graver 
injury. Apart from the enmity of France and Germany, 
the main cause of the vast armaments which have drained 
the resources of most European countries is their conflicting 
interests in territorial and commercial expansion. Where 
thirty years ago there*'’ existed one sensitive spot in our 

^ The utuation in 1903. 



elations with France, or Germany, or Russia, there are a 
lozen now ; diplomatic strains are of almost monthly 
occurrence between Powers with African or Chinese interests, 
:nd the chiefly business nature of the national antagonisms 
enders them more dangerous, inasmuch as the policy of 
governments passes under the influence of distinctively 
inancial juntos. 

The contention of the si pacetn vis para hellup school, 
hat armaments alone constitute the best security for 
leace, is based upon the assumption that a genuine lasting 
intagonism of real interests exists between the various 
leoples who are called upon to undergo this monstrous 

Our economic analysis has disclosed the fact that it 
s only the interests of competing cliques of business men — 
nvestors, contractors, export manufacturers, and certain 
jrofessional classes — that are antagonistic ; that these 
rliques, usurping the authority aiild voice of the people, use 
he public resources to push their private interests, and spend 
he blood and money of the people in this vast and disastrous 
nilitary game, feigning national antagonisms which have 
lo basis in reality. It is not to the interest of the British 
people, either as producers of wealth or as tax-payers, to 
‘isk a war with Russia and France in order to join Japan in 
preventing Russia from seizing Corea ; but it may serve the 
nterests of a group of commercial politicians to promote 
:hi8 dangerous policy. The South African war, openly 
omented by gold speculators for their private purposes, 
vill rank in history as a leading case of this usurpation of 

War, however, represents not the success, but the failure 
)f this policy; its normal and most perilous fruit is not 
var, but militarism. So long as this competitive expansion 
or territory and foreign markets is permitted to misrepresent 


imperialism: a study 

itself as national policy ” the antagonism of interests seems 
real, and the peoples must sweat and bleed and toil to keep 
up an ever more expensive machinery of war. 

Were logic applicable in such cases, the notion that the 
greater the preparation for war the smaller the probability of 
its occurrence might well appear a reiuctio ad absurdum of 
militarism, implying, as it does, that the only way to secure 
an etern4 world peace is to concentrate the entire energy 
of all nations upon the art of war, which is thus rendered 
incapable of practice. 

With such paradoxes, however, we need not concern 
ourselves. The patent admitted fact that, as a result of 
imperial competition, an ever larger proportion of the 
time, energy, and money of “ imperialist ” nations is ab- 
sorbed by naval and military armaments, and that no check 
upon further absorption is regarded as practicable by 
Imperialists, brings “ militarism ” into the forefront of 
practical politics. Great •Britain and the United States, 
which have hitherto congratulated themselves on escaping 
the militarism of continental Europe, are now rapidly 
succumbing. Why ? Does any one suggest that either 
nation needs a larger army for the protection of its own 
lands or of any of its genuine white settlements in other 
lands ? Not at all. It is not pretended that the militariza- 
tion of England is required for such protective work. 
Australia and New Zealand are not threatened by any 
power, nor could a British army render . them adequate 
assistance if they were ; equally impotent would British 
land forces be against the only Power which could con- 
ceivably attack our Canadian Dominion ; even South 
Africa, which lies on the borderland between colony and 
tropical dependency, cannot ultimately be secured by the 
military power of England. It is our mistaken annexation 
of tropical and sub-tropical territories, and the attempt to 



govern lower races,” that is driving us down the steep 
road to militarism. 

If we arc to hold all that we have taken since 1870 and 
to compete with the new industrial nations in the further 
partition of empires or spheres of influence in Africa and 
Asia, we must be prepared to fight. The enmity of rival 
empires, openly displayed throughout the South "African 
war, is admittedly due to the policy by which we Jiave fore- 
stalled, and are still seeking to forestall, these rivals in the 
annexation of territory and of markets throughout the 
world. The theory that we may be compelled to fight for 
the very existence of our Empire against some combination 
of European powers, which is now used to scare the nation 
into a definite and irretrievable reversal of our military and 
commercial policy, signifies nothing else than the intention 
of the imperialist interests to continue their reckless career 
of annexation. In 1896 Lord Rosebery gave a vivid 
description of the policy of the last two decades of the 
century, and put forth a powerful plea for peace. 

‘‘ The British Empire . . . needs peace. For the last 
twenty years, still more during the last twelve, you have 
been laying your hands, with almost frantic eagerness, on 
every tract of territory adjacent to your own or desirable 
from any other point of view which you thought it desirable 
to take. That has had two results. I daresay it has been 
quite right, but it has had two results. The first result is 
this, that you have excited to an almost intolerable degree 
the envy of other colonizing {sic J) nations, and that, in the 
case of many countries, or several countries rather, which 
were formerly friendly to you, you can reckon — ^in conse- 
quence of your colonial .policy, whether right or wrong — 
not on their active benevolence, but on their active male- 
volence. And, secondly, you ha ve^ acquired so enormous a 
m1iss of territory that it will be years before you can settle 


imperialism: a study 

it or control it, or make it capable of defence or make it 
amenable to the acts of your administration. ... In 
twelve years you have added to the Empire, whether in the 
shape of actual annexation or of dominion, or of what is called 
a sphere of influence, 2,600,000 square miles of territory 
« . . to the 120,000 square miles of the United Kingdom, 
which is part of your Empire, you have added during the last 
twelve ye^rs twenty-two areas as large as that United 
Kingdom itself. I say that that marks out for many years 
a policy from which you cannot depart if you would. You 
may be compelled to draw the sword — I hope you may not 
be ; but the foreign policy of Great Britain, until its 
territory is consolidated, filled up, settled, civilized, must 
inevitably be a policy of peace.”' 

After these words were uttered, vast new tracts of un- 
digested empire were added in the Soudan, in East Africa, 
in South Africa, while Great Britain was busily entangling 
herself in obligations of incalculable magnitude and peril 
in the China seas, and the prophet who spoke this warning 
was himself an active instrument in the furtherance of the 
very folly he denounced. 

Imperialism — whether it consists in a further policy of 
expansion or in the rigorous maintenance of all those vast 
tropical lands which have been ear-marked as British spheres 
of influence — ^implies militarism now and ruinous wars in 
the future. This truth is now for the first time brought 
sharply and nakedly before the mind of the nation. The 
kingdoms of the earth are to be ours on condition that we 
fall down and worship Moloch. 

Militarism approaches Great Britain ivith the following 
dilemma. If the army needed for defence of the Empire 
is to remain upon a voluntary basis, consisting of selected 
material obtained by application of economic inducements, 

^ Edinbttfgh, October 9, 1896. 



a considerable increase either of the regular forces or the 
militia can only be obtained by a rise of pay so large as to 
tempt men, not from the unskilled labour market or the 
agricultural districts as heretofore, but from the skilled 
artisan classes of the towns. It requires but slight considera- 
tion to perceive that every fresh increment of the army will 
involve an appeal to a class accustomed to a higher standard 
of wage, and that the pay for the entire army must be 
regulated by the rate of pay needed to secui^ this last 
increment. Recruiting in time of war is always brisker than 
in time of peace, other motives blending with the distinctly 
economic motive. Every increase of our forces on a peace 
footing will involve a far more than proportionate increase 
in the rate of pay — ^how large an increase experiment alone 
can teach. It seems quite likely that in a period of normally 
good trade our voluntary army could only be increased 
50 per cent, by doubling the former rate of pay, or by other 
improved conditions of employment involving an equivalent 
rise of cost, and that, if we required to double the size of 
our standing army, we should have to treble the rate of pay. 
If, on the other hand, the prospect of some such enormous 
increase of military expenditure should lead us to abandon 
the purely voluntary basis, and have recourse to conscription 
or some other form of compulsory service, we could not 
fail to suffer in average fighting calibre. Such selection of 
physique and morale as prevailed under the voluntary 
system would now disappear, and the radical unfitness 
of a nation of town-dwellers for arduous military service 
would be disclosed. The fatuous attempt to convert 
ineffective slum-workers and weedy city clerks into tough 
military material, fit for prolonged foreign service, or 
even for efficient home defence, would be detected,* it 
may be hoped, before the trial by combat with a military 
Bower drawing its soldiers from the soil. A nation, 70 per 



imperialism: a study 

cent, of whose inhabitants are denizens of towns, cannot 
afford to challenge its neighbours to trials of physical 
force, for in the last resort war is determined neither by 
generalship nor superiority of weapons, but by those 
elements of brute endurance which are incompatible with 
the life of industrial towns. 

The full danger of the dilemma of militarism is only 
perceived when the indirect is added to the direct expendi- 
ture. Arf* army, volunteer or conscript, formed out of 
town material would take longer training or more frequent 
exercise than a peasant army ; the waste of labour power, 
by withdrawing the youth of the nation from their early 
training in the productive arts in order to prepare them 
for the destructive art, would be greater, and would impair 
more grievously the skilled industries than in nations 
less advanced in the specialized trades and professions. 
The least of these economic injuries would be the actual 
loss of labour time involved in the withdrawal ; far graver 
would be the damage to industrial skill and character by 
withdrawing youths at the period of best docility and 
aptitude for skilled work and subjecting them to a distinc- 
tively mechanical discipline, for though the slum-dweller 
and the clodhopper may gain in smartness and alertness by 
military training, the skilled labouring classes will lose more 
by the crushing of individual initiative which professional 
militarism always involves. 

At a time when the call for free, bold initiative and 
individual enterprise and ingenuity in the assimilation of 
the latest scientific and technical knowledge for the arts 
of industry, for improved organization and methods of 
business, becomes most urgent to enable us to hold our 
own in the new competition of the world — at such a time 
to subject the youth of our nation to the barrack system, 
or to any form of effective military training, would be 



veritable suicide. It is to no purpose to reply that some of 
our keen commercial competitors, notoriously Germany, 
are already saddled with this burden ; the answer is that, 
if we can hardly hold our own with Germany while she 
bears this burden, we shall hand over to her an easy victory 
if we assume a still heavier one.^ Whatever virtues are 
attributed to military discipline by its apologists, it is 
admitted that this training does not conduce to industrial 
efficiency. The economic cost of militarism is therefore 
twofold ; the greatly increased expense of the army must 
be defrayed by an impoverished people. 

So far, I have regarded the issue on its narrowly economic 
side. Far more important are the political implications 
of militarism. These strike at the very root of popular 
liberty and the ordinary civic virtues. A few plain 
reflections serve to dispel the sophistical vapours which arc 
used to form a halo round the life of the soldier. Respice 
Jinem, There exists an absolu^:e antagonism between the 
activity of the good citizen and that of the soldier. The 
end of the soldier is not, as is sometimes falsely said, to 
die for his country ; it is to kill for his country. In as far 
as he dies he is a failure ; his work is to kill, and he attains 
perfection as a soldier when he becomes a perfect killer. 
This end, the slaughter of one’s fellow-men, forms a pro- 
fessional character, alien from, and antagonistic to, the 
character of our ordinary citizen, whose work conduces 
to the preservation of his fellow-men. If it be contended 
that this final purpose, though informing and moulding the 
structure and functions of an army, operates but seldom 
and slightly upon the consciousness of the individual 
soldier, save upon the battlefield, the answer is that, in 
the absence from consciousness of this end, the entire 
routine of the soldier’s life, his drill, parades, and whole 

^ Refers, of course, tb the situation in 1903. 


imperialism: a study 

military exercise, is a useless, purposeless activity, and that 
these qualities exercise a hardly less degrading influence 
on character than the conscious intention of killing his 

The psychical reactions of military life are indeed 
notorious ; even those who defend the utility of an army 
do not deny that it unfits a man for civil life. Nor can it 
be maintained that a shorter general service, such as suffices 
for a citizen army, escapes these reactions. If the service 
is long and rigorous enough to be effective, it involves these 
psychical reactions, which are, indeed, part and parcel of 
military efficiency. How clearly this is set forth by Mr. 
March-Phillips in his admirable appreciation of the common 
soldier’s life ! 

“ Soldiers as a class (I take the town-bred, slum-bred 
majority, mind) are men who have discarded the civil 
standard of morality altogether. They simply ignore it. 
This is, no doubt, why civilians fight shy of them. In the 
game of life they don’t play the same rules, and the con- 
sequence is a good deal of misunderstanding, until finally 
the civilian says he won’t play with the Tommy any more. 
In soldiers’ eyes lying, theft, drunkenness, bad language, 
etc., are not evils at all. They steal like jackdaws. As to 
language, I used to think the language of a merchant ship’s 
fo’c’sle pretty bad, but the language of Tommies, in point 
of profanity, quite equals, and, in point of obscenity, beats 
it hollow. This department is a speciality of his. Lying 
he treats with the same large charity. To lie like a trooper 
is quite a sound metaphor. He invents all sorts of elaborate 
lies for the mere pleasure of inventing them. Looting, 
again, is one of his perpetual joys. Not merely looting for 
profit, but looting for the sheer fun of the destruction, 
etc.”^ The fidelity of this description is attested by the 
^ With by L. March-PhilUpt, pp. ijt, 13a. 



sympathy which the writer displays with the soldierly 
attributes that accompany, and, in his opinion, atone for, 
these breaches ot the civilian rules. 

“ Are thieving and lying and looting and bestial talk 
very bad things ? If they are. Tommy is a bad man. But, 
for some reason or other, since I got to know him, I have 
thought rather less of the iniquity of these things than I 
did before.” • 

This judgment is itself a striking comment on militarism. 
The fact that it should be given by a man of sterling 
character and culture is the most convincing testimony to 
the corrupting influence of war. 

To this informal witness may be added the significant 
evidence of Lord Wolseley’s Solditr^s Pocket-book, 

** As a nation, we are brought up to feel it a disgrace 
to succeed by falsehood ; the word * spy ’ conveys in it 
something as repulsive as slave. We will keep hammering 
away with the conviction thaf honesty is the best policy, 
and that truth always wins in the long run. These pretty 
little sentences do well enough for a child^s copy-book, but 
the man who acts upon them in war had better sheathe his 
sword for ever.” 

The order and progress of Great Britain during the nine- 
teenth century was secured by the cultivation and practise 
of the ordinary civic and industrial virtues, assisted by 
certain advantages of natural resources and historical 
contingencies. Are we prepared to substitute the military 
code of ethics or to distract the national mind and conduct 
by a perpetual conflict of two warring principles, the one 
making for the evolution of the good citizen, the other for 
the evolution of the good soldier ? 

Ignoring, for the present, distinctively moral degradation 
of this reversion from industrial to military ethics, we 
cannot but perceive that the damage done to commercial 

I3S ' . 


morality must react disastrously upon the wealth-producing 
power of the nation, and sap the roots of imperial expenditure. 

But one loophole of escape from this dilemma presents 
itself, an escape fraught with still graver peril. The new 
Imperialism has been, we have seen, chiefly concerned with 
tropical and sub-tropical countries where large lower 
races ** are brought under white control. Why should 
Englishmen fight the defensive or offensive wars of this 
Empire, when cheaper, more numerous, and better- 
assimilated fighting material can be raised upon the spot, or 
transferred from one tropical dominion to another ? As 
the labour of industrial development of tropical resources 
is put upon the “ lower races ” who reside there, under 
white superintendence, why should not militarism be 
organized upon the same basis, black or brown or yellow 
men, to whom military discipline will be ‘‘ a wholesome 
education,” fighting for the British Empire under British 
officers ? Thus can we beSt economize our own limited 
military material, keeping most of it for home defence. 
This simple solution — the employment of cheap foreign 
mercenary armies — ^is no new device. The organization 
of vast native forces, armed with “ civilized ” weapons, 
drilled on “ civilized ” methods, and commanded by 
“ civilized ” officers, formed one of the most conspicuous 
features of the latest stages of the great Eastern Empires, 
and afterwards of the Roman Empire. It has proved one 
of the most perilous devices of parasitism, by which a 
metropolitan population entrusts the defence of its lives 
and possessions to the precarious fidelity of “ conquered 
races,” commanded by ambitious pro-consuls. 

One of the strangest symptoms of the blindness of 
Imperialism is the reckless indifference with which Great 
Britain, France, and otlier imperial nations embarked 
on this perilous dependence. Great Britain has gone 



farthest. Most of the fighting by which we have won our 
Indian Empire was done by natives ; in India, as later 
in Egypt, great .standing armies were placed under British 
commanders ; almost all the fighting associated with our 
African dominions, except in the southern part, was done 
for us by natives. How strong the pressure was to reduce 
the proportion of British soldiers employed in these countries 
to a bare minimum of safety is amply illustrated in the case 
of India, when the South African emergency drove us to 
reduce the accepted minimum by more than fifteen thousand 
men, while in South Africa itself we established a dangerous 
precedent by employing large numbers of armed natives 
to fight against another white race. 

Those best acquainted with the temper of the British 
people and of the politicians who have the direct deter- 
mination of affairs will understand how readily we may be 
drawn along this perilous path. Nothing short of the 
fear of an early invasion of these islands will induce the 
British people to undergo the onerous experience of a 
really effective system of compulsory military service ; no 
statesman except under the shadow of a serious menace 
of invasion will dare to press such a plan. A regular 
provision for compulsory foreign service will never be 
adopted when the alternative of mercenary native armies 
remains. Let these “ niggers ” fight for the empire in 
return for the services we render them by annexing and 
governing them and teaching them “ the dignity of labour,” 
will be the prevailing sentiment, and “ imperialist ” states- 
men will be compelled to bow before it, diluting with British 
troops ever more thinly the native armies in Africa and 

This mode of militarism, while cheaper and easier in 
the first instance, implies less an3 less control from Great 
Britain. Though reducing the strain of militarism upon 


imperialism: a study 

the population at home, it enhances the risks of wars, 
which become more frequent and more barbarous in 
proportion as they involve to a less degree the lives of 
Englishmen. The expansion of our Empire under the new 
Imperialism has been compassed by setting the ** lower 
races at one another’s throats, fostering tribal animosities 
and utilising for our supposed benefit the savage propensities 
of the peoples to whom we have a mission to carry 
Christianity and civilization. 

That we do not stand alone in this ignominious policy 
does not make it better, rather worse, offering terrible 
prophetic glimpses into a not distant future, when the 
horrors of our eighteenth century struggle with France in 
North America and India may be revived upon a gigantic 
scale, and Africa and Asia may furnish huge cock-pits for 
the struggles of black and yellow armies representing the 
imperialist rivalries of Christendom. The present tendencies 
of Imperialism plainly make in this direction, involving in 
their recoil a degradation of Western States and a possible 
dihdcU of Western civilization. 

In any event Imperialism makes for war and for mili- 
tarism, and has brought a great and limitless increase of 
expenditure of national resources upon armaments. It 
has impaired the independence of every nation which has 
yielded to its false glamour. Great Britain no longer 
possesses a million pounds which it can call its own ; its 
entire financial resources are mortgaged to a policy to be 
dictated by Germany, France, or Russia. A move from 
any of these Powers can force us to expend upon more 
battleships and military preparations the money we had 
designed to use for domestic purposes. The priority and 
reckless magnitude of our imperial expansion has made 
the danger of an armed coalition of great Powers against 
us no idle chimera. The development of their resources 



along the lines of the new industrialism, on the one hand, 
by driving them to seek foreign markets, brings them in 
all parts of the. world against the vexatious barriers of 
British possessions ; on the other, has furnished them with 
ample means of public expenditure. The spread of 
modern industrialism tends to place our ‘‘ rivals ” on a 
level with ourselves in their public resources. Hence, at 
the very time when we have more reason to ^ear armed 
coalition than formerly, we are losing that superiority in 
finance which made it feasible for us to maintain a naval 
armament superior to any European combination. 

All these perils in the present and the future are the 
fruits of the new Imperialism, which is thus exposed 
as the implacable and mortal enemy of Peace and Economy. 
How far the military aspect of Imperialism has already 
eaten into the resources of modern European States may 
be judged by the following table showing the growth of 
expenditure of the various ^reat European States on 
military equipment in the last generation : — 

Military Expindituri of.Grxat Europran Powers.^ 



Great Britain 


Russia ...... 

Germany ...... 


















For the whole body pf European States the increase has been from 
£105,719,000 in 1869-1870 to £208,877, 00ft in 1897-1898. 

^ See Appendix, p. 378, for expenditure of the Powers on Defence in 1934. 


imperialism: a study 


There are those who deny the antagonism of Imperialism 
and social reform, “ The energy of a nation like ours, 
they urge, is not to be regarded as a fixed quantity, so that 
every expenditure upon imperial expansion implies a 
corresponding restriction for purposes of internal progress ; 
there are ©various sorts of energy demanding different 
outlets, so that the true economy of British genius requires 
many domestic and external fields of activity ; we are 
capable at one and the same time of imperial expansion in 
various directions, and of a complex energy of growth in 
our internal economy. The inspiration of great achieve- 
ments throughout the world reacts upon the vitality of the 
British nation, rendering it capable of efforts of internal 
progress which would have been precluded by the ordinary 
course of smug insular self-development.’^ 

Now it is needless to argue the incompatibility of social 
reform with imperialism on any abstract principle regarding 
the quantity of national energy. Though limits of quantity 
exist underneath the finest economy of division of labour, 
as indeed is illustrated on the military plane by the limits 
which population imposes upon the combination of aggressive 
expansion and home defence, these limits are not always 
easy to discover and are sometimes capable of great elasticity. 
It cannot, therefore, be contended that the sound intellectual 
stuff which goes into our Indian Civil Service involves a 
corresponding loss to our home professions and official 
services, or that the adventurous energy of great explorers, 
missionaries, engineers, prospectors and other pioneers of 
empire could and would have found as ample a field and 
as sharp a stimulus for their energies within these islands. 
The issue we are considering — that of Imperialism — does 
not in its main political and social effects turn upon any 



such exact considerations of quantitative economy of 
energy, nor does the repudiation of Imperialism imply a 
confinement within rigid territorial limits of any individual 
or co-operative energy which may find better scope abroad. 
We are concerned with economy of governmental power, 
with Imperialism as a public policy. Even here the issue 
is not primarily one of quantitative economy, though, as 
we shall see, that is deafly involved. The antagonism of 
Imperialism and social reform is an inherent opposition 
of policy involving contradictory methods and processes of 
government. Some of the more obvious illustrations 
of this antagonism are presented by considerations of finance. 
Most important measures of social reform, the improvement 
of the machinery of public education, any large handling 
of the land and housing questions in town and country, 
the public control of the drink traffic, old-age pensions, 
legislation for improving the condition of the workers, 
involve considerable outlay of public money raised in 
taxation by the central or local authorities. Now Imperialism, 
through the iSver-growing military expenditure it 
involves, visibly drains the public purse of the money which 
might be put to such purposes. Not only has the Exchequer 
not sufficient money to expend on public education, old-age 
pensions, or other State reforms ; the smaller units of local 
government are similarly crippled, for the taxpayers and the 
ratepayers are in the main the same persons, and when they 
are heavily mulcted by taxes for unproductive State 
purposes they cannot easily bear increased rates. 

Every important social reform, even if it does not 
directly involve large public expenditure, causes financial 
disturbances and risks which are less tolerable at times 
when public expenditure is heavy and public credit 
fluctuating and embarrassed. Most social reforms involve 
some attack on vested interests, and these can best defend 


imperialism: a study 

themselves when active Imperialism absorbs public atten- 
tion. When legislation is involved, economy of time and 
of governmental interest is of paramount importance. 
Imperialism, with its “ high politics,” involving the honour 
and safety of the Empire, claims the first place, and, as the 
Empire grows, the number and complexity of its issues, 
involving close, immediate, continuous attention, grow, 
absorbing , the time of the Government and of Parliament. 
It becomes more and more impossible to set aside parlia- 
mentary time for the full unbroken discussion of matters 
of most vital domestic importance, or to carry through 
any large serious measure of reform. 

It is needless to labour the theory of this antagonism 
when the practice is apparent to every student of politics. 
Indeed, it has become a commonplace of history how 
Governments use national animosities, foreign wars and 
the glamour of empire-making, in order to bemuse the 
popular mind and divert rising resentment against domestic 
abuses. The vested interests, which, on our analysis, are 
shown to be chief prompters of an imperialist policy, play 
for a double stake, seeking their private commercial and 
financial gains at the expense and peril of the common- 
wealth. They at the same time protect their economic 
and political supremacy at home against movements of 
popular reform. The city ground landlord, the country 
squire, the banker, the usurer, and the financier, the brewer, 
the mine-owner, the ironmaster, the shipbuilder, and the 
shipping trade, the great export manufacturers and 
merchants, the clergy of the State Church, the universities, 
and great public schools, the legal trade unions and the 
services have, both in Great Britain and on the Continent, 
drawn together for common political resistance against 
attacks upon the power, ^ the property, and the j>rivileges 
which in various forms and degrees they represent. Having 



conceded under pressure the form of political power in 
the shape of elective institutions and a wide franchise to 
the masses, they are struggling to prevent the masses from 
gaining the substance of this power and using it for the 
establishment of equality of economic opportunities. The 
collapse of the Liberal party upon the Continent, and now 
in Great Britain, is only made intelligible in this way. 
Friends of liberty and of popular government so long as the 
new industrial and commercial forces were hampered by 
the economic barriers and the political supremacy of the 
noblesse and the landed aristocracy, they have come to 
temper their trust ” of the people by an ever-growing 
quantity of caution, until within the last two decades^ they 
have either sought political fusion with the Conservatives 
or have dragged on a precarious existence on the strength 
of a few belated leaders with obsolescent principles. Where 
Liberalism preserves any real strength, it is because the 
older struggle for the franchise and the primary liberties 
has been delayed, as in Belgium and in Denmark, and a 
modus vivendi has been possible with the rising working- 
class party. In Germany, France, and Italy the Liberal 
party as a factor in practical politics has either disappeared or 
is reduced to impotence ; in England it now stands convicted 
of a gross palpable betrayal of the first conditions of 
liberty, feebly fumbling after programmes as a substitute 
for principles. Its leaders, having sold their party to a 
confederacy of stock gamblers and jingo sentimentalists, 
find themselves impotent to defend Free Trade, Free Press, 
Free Schools, Free Speech, or any of the rudiments of ancient 
Liberalism. They have alienated the confidence of the 
people. For many years they have been permitted to 
conduct a sham fight and to call it politics ; the people 
thought it real until the Souths African war furnished a 

' Referring to the last twenty years of the nineteenth century. 


imperialism: a study 

decisive dramatic test, and the unreality of Liberalism 
became apparent. It is not that Liberals have openly 
abandoned the old principles and traditions, but that they 
have rendered them of no account by dallying with an 
Imperialism which they have foolishly and futilely striven 
to distinguish from the firmer brand of their political 
opponents. This surrender to Imperialism signifies that 
they have preferred the economic interests of the possessing 
and speculative classes, to which most of their leaders belong, 
to the cause of Liberalism. That they are not conscious 
traitors or hypocrites may be readily conceded, but the 
fact remains that they have sold the cause of popular reform, 
which was their rightful heritage, for an Imperialism which 
appealed to their business interests and their social pre- 
possessions. The mess of pottage has been seasoned by 
various sweeter herbs, but its ** stock ” is class selfishness. 
The majority of the influential Liberals fled from the fight 
which was the truest test of Liberalism in their generation 
because they were hirelings,” destitute of firm political 
principle, gladly abandoning themselves to whatever shallow 
and ignoble defences a blear-eyed, raucous ‘‘ patriotism ” 
was ready to devise for their excuse. 

It is possible to explain and qualify, but this remains 
the naked truth, which it is well to recognise. A Liberal 
party can only survive as a discredited or feeble remnant 
in England, unless it consents definitely to dissever itself 
from that Imperialism which its past leaders as well as 
their opponents, have permitted to block the progress of 
domestic reforms. 

There are individuals and sections among those who 
have comprised the Liberal party whose deception has 
been in large measure blind and involuntary, because 
they have been absorbed by their interest in some single 
important issue of social reform, whether it be temperance, 



land tenure, education, or the like. Let these men now 
recognize, as in Honesty they can scarcely fail to do, that 
Imperialism is the deadly enemy of each of these reforms, 
that none of them can make serious advance so long as 
the expansion of the Empire and its satellite (militarism) 
absorb the time, the energy, the money of the State. Thus 
alone is it still possible that a strong rally of Liberals might, 
by fusion or co-operation with the political organisations 
of 'the working classes, fight Imperialism witl! the only 
effectual weapon, social reconstruction on the basis of 


The antagonism with democracy drives to the very 
roots of Imperialism as a political principle. Not only is 
Imperialism used to frustrate those measures of economic 
reform now recognized as essential to the effectual working 
of all machinery of popular government, but it operates to 
paralyse the working of that machinery itself. .Representa- 
tive institutions are ill adapted for empire, either as regards 
men or methods. The government of a great heterogeneous 
medley of lower races by departmental officials in London 
and their nominated emissaries lies outside the scope of 
popular knowledge and popular control. The Foreign, 
Colonial, and Indian Secretaries in Parliament, the per- 
manent officials of the departments, the governors and 
staff who represent the Imperial Government in our 
dependencies, are not, and cannot be, controlled directly 
or effectively by the will of the people. This subordination 
of the legislative to the executive, and the concentration of 
executive power in an autocracy, are necessary consequences 
of the predominance of foreign domestic politics. The 
process is attended by a decay of party spirit and party 


imperialism: a study 

action, and an insistence on the part of the autocracy, 
whether it be a Kaiser or a Cabinet, that" all effective party 
criticism is unpatriotic and verges on treason. An able 
writer, discussing the new foreign policy of Germany, « 
summarises the point of view of the expansionists : It is 
claimed by them that in foreign affairs the nation should 
stand as one man, that policies once entered upon by the 
Government should not be repudiated, and that criticism 
should be^avoided as weakening the influence of the nation 
abroad. ... It is evident that when the most important 
concerns of a nation are thus withdrawn from the field of 
party difference, party government itself must grow weak, 
as dealing no longer with vital affairs. . . , Thus, as the 
importance of the executive is enhanced, that of the 
legislative is lowered, and parliamentary action is looked 
down upon as the futile and irritating activity of unpractical 
critics. If the governmental measures are to be adopted 
inevitably, why not dispense with the irritating delay of 
parliamentary discussion ? 

The Kaiser’s speech at Hamburg, October 19, 1899, 
condenses the doctrine thus : “ The face of the world has 
changed greatly during the last few years. What formerly 
required centuries is now accomplished in a few months. 
The task of Kaiser and Government has consequently grown 
beyond measure, and a solution will only be possible when 
the German people renounce party divisions. Standing 
in serried ranks behind the Kaiser, proud of their great 
fatherland, and conscious of their real worth, the Germans 
must watch the development of foreign States. They must 
make sacrifices for their position as a world-power, and, 
abandoning party spirit, they must stand united behind 
their prince and emperor.” 

Autocratic govemmeijit in imperial politics naturally 

^ fForli Politics^ by P. S. Rcinich, pp. 300, 301 (Macmillan A Co.). 



reacts upon domestic government. The intricacy of the 
departmental work of the Home Office, the Board of Trade, 
of Education and other important offices has favoured this 
teaction, which has taken shape in government by adminis- 
trative orders in accordance with large powers slipped 
into important statutes and not properly challenged or safe- 
guarded amid the chaotic hurry in which most governments 
are driven in legislation. It is noticeable that in America a 
still more dangerous practice has sprung up, entitled 
‘‘ government by injunction,’* in which the judiciary is 
virtually empowered to issue decrees having the effect of 
laws with attendant penalties for specific acts. 

In Great Britain the weakening of “ party ” is visibly 
attended by a decline of the reality of popular control. 
Just in proportion as foreign and colonial policy bulks 
more largely in the deliberative and administrative work 
of the State is government necessarily removed from the 
real control of the people. It is no mere question of economy 
of the time and energy of Parliament, though the dwindling 
proportion of the sessions devoted to consideration of 
domestic questions represents a corresponding decline 
of practical democracy. The wound to popular govern- 
ment penetrates far deeper. Imperialism, and the military, 
diplomatic, and financial resources which feed it, have 
become so far the paramount considerations of recent 
Governments that they mould and direct the entire policy, 
give point, colour and character to the conduct of public 
affairs, and overawe by continual suggestions of unknown 
and incalculable gains and perils the nearer and more 
sober processes of domestic policy. The effect on parlia- 
mentary government has been great, quick, and of palpable 
import, making for the diminution of the power of repre- 
sentative institutions. At elections the electorate is no 
longer invited to exercise a free, conscious, rational choice 



imperialism: a study 

between the representatives of different intelligible policies ; 
it is invited to endorse, or to refuse endorsement, to a 
difficult, intricate, and hazardous imperial and foreign policy, 
commonly couched in a few well-sounding general phrases, 
and supported by an appeal to the necessity of solidarity 
and continuity of national conduct — ^virtually a blind vote 
of confidence. In the deliberations of the House of 
Commonly the power of the Opposition to oppose has been 
seriously and progressively impaired : partly by alteration 
in the rules of the House, which have diminished the right 
of full discussion of legislative measures in their several 
stages, and impaired the privileges of the Commons, viz., 
the right of discussing grievances upon votes of Supply, 
and of questioning ministers regarding the conduct of their 
offices ; partly by a forcible encroachment of the Govern- 
ment upon the rights and privileges formerly enjoyed by 
private members in moving resolutions and in introducing 
bills. This diminution of the power of opposition is only the 
first of a series of processes of concentration of power. The 
Government now claims for its measures the complete 
disposal of the time of the House whenever it judges such 
monopoly to be desirable. 

Within the Government itself the same centripetal 
forces have been operative. ** There can,” writes Mr. 
Bryce, “ be no doubt that the power of the Cabinet as 
against the House of Commons has grown steadily and 
rapidly, and it appears (1901) to be still growing.”^ 

So the Cabinet absorbs the powers of the House, while 
the Cabinet itself has been deliberately and consciously 
expanded in size so as to promote the concentration of 
real power in an informal but very real “ inner Cabinet,” 
retaining some slight selective elasticity, but virtually 
consisting of the Primb Minister and the Foreign and 
1 Stidi$s in History and Jnrupruionce^ Vol. i, p. 177. 



Colonial Secretaries and the Chancellor of the Exchequer. 
This process of centralisation of power, which tends to 
destroy representative government, reducing the House 
of Commons to be little more than a machine for the 
automatic registration of the decrees of an unelccted inner 
Cabinet, is chiefly attributable to Imperialism.^ The 
consideration of delicate, uncertain intelligence affecting 
our relations with foreign Powers, the accepted pecessity of 
secrecy in diplomacy, and of expeditious, unobtrusive action, 
seem to favour and even to necessitate a highly centralised 
autocratic and bureaucratic method of government. 

Amid this general decline of parliamentary government 
the party system ” is visibly collapsing, based as it was on 
plain cleavages in domestic policy which have little signifi- 
cance when confronted with the claims and powers of 
Imperialism. If the party system is destined to survive 
in British politics, it can only do so by the consolidation ‘ 
of all sections opposed to the ‘‘ imperialist ’’ practices to 
which Liberal as well as Conservative ministries have 
adhered during recent years. So long as Imperialism 
is allowed to hold the field, the only real political conflict 
is between groups representing the divergent branches of 
Imperialism, the men upon the spot and the Home Govern- 
ment, the Asiatic interests of India and China and the 
forward policy in Africa, the advocates of a German alliance 
or a Franco-Russian alliance. 

^ An experienced observer thus records the effect of these changes upon the 
character and conduct of members of Parliament ; For the most part, as in 
the country, so in the House, the political element has waned as a factor. The 
lack of interest in constitutional matters has been conspicuous. . . . The 
* Parliament man * has been disappearing ; the number of those desirous of 
furthering social and industrial reforms has been waning. On the other hand, 
those who have been anxious to grasp such opportunities of various kinds .outside 
its work and duties as are afforded by membership of the House of Commons, 
and who are willing to support the Government in the division lobby without 
being called upon to do much more, came ufif in large numbers in 189$ and 1900, 
and now form a very large proportion, if not the majority, of the House of 
Commons *' (Mr. John £. Ellis, M.P., The Speaker^ June 7, 1902). 


imperialism: a study 


Imperialism and popular government have nothing 
in common : they differ in spirit, in policy, in method. 
Of policy and method I have already spoken ; it remains 
to point out how the spirit of Imperialism poisons the 
springs of democracy in the mind and character of the 
people. As our free self-governing colonies have furnished 
hope, encouragement, and leading to the popular aspira- 
tions in Great Britain, not merely by practical successes 
in the arts of popular government, but by the wafting of 
a spirit of freedom and equality, so our despotically ruled 
dependencies have ever served to damage the character of our 
people by feeding the habits ol snobbish subservience, the 
admiration of wealth and rank, the corrupt survivals of the 
inequalities of feudalism. This process began with the 
advent of the East Indian nabob and the West Indian 
planter into English society and politics, bringing back 
with his plunders of the slave trade and the gains of corrupt 
and extortionate officialism the acts of vulgar ostentation, 
domineering demeanour and corrupting largesse to dazzle 
and degrade the life of our people. Cobden, writing in 
i860 of our Indian Empire, put this pithy question : ** Is 
it not just possible that we may become corrupted at home 
by the reaction of arbitrary political maxims in the East 
upon our domestic politics, just as Greece and Rome were 
demoralised by their contact with Asia f 

Not merely is the reaction possible, it is inevitable. As 
the despotic portion of our Empire has grown in area, a larger 
and larger number of men, trained in the temper and methods 
of autocracy as soldiers and civil officials in our Crown 
colonies, protectorates, and Indian Empire, reinforced by 
numbers of merchants, planters, engineers, and overseers, 
whose lives have been tfiose of a superior caste living an 
1 Morley, Life of Cobdeny Vol. ii, p. 361. 



artificial life removed from all the healthy restraints of 
ordinary European society, have returned to this country, 
brining back the characters, sentiments, and ideas imposed 
by this foreign environment. The South and South-West 
of England is richly sprinkled with these men, many of 
them wealthy, most of them endowed with leisure, men 
openly contemptuous of democracy, devoted to material 
luxury, social display, and the shallower arts of intellectual 
life. The wealthier among them discover political ambitions, 
introducing into our Houses of Parliament the coarsest and 
most selfish spirit of “ Imperialism,” using their imperial 
experience and connexions to push profitable companies 
and concessions for their private benefits, and posing as 
authorities so as to keep the yoke of Imperialism firmly 
fixed upon the shoulders of the nigger.” The South 
African millionaire is the brand most in evidence : his 
methods are the most barefaced, and his success, social 
and political, the most redoubtable. But the practices 
which are writ large in Rhodes, Beit, and their parliamentaiy 
confederates are widespread on a smaller scale ; the South 
of England is full of men of local influence in politics and 
society whose character has been formed in our despotic 
Empire, and whose incomes are chiefly derived from the 
maintenance and furtherance of this despotic rule. Not 
a few enter our local councils, or take posts in our constabu- 
lary or our prisons : everywhere they stand for coercion and 
for resistance to reform. Could the incomes expended in the 
Hotne Counties and other large districts of Southern Britain 
be traced to their sources, it would be found that they 
were in large measure wrung from the enforced toil of vast 
multitudes of black, brown, or yellow natives, by arts 
not differing essentially from those which supported in 
idleness and luxury imperial Rome. 

It is, indeed, a nemesis of Imperialism that the arts 



and crafts of tyranny, acquired and exercised in our unfree 
Empire, ^should be turned against our liberties at home. 
Those who have felt surprise at the total disregard or the 
open contempt displayed by the aristocracy and the pluto- 
cracy of this land for infringements of the liberties of the 
subject and for the abrogation of constitutional rights and 
usages have not taken sufficiently into account the steady 
reflux of this poison of irresponsible autocracy from our 
unfree, intolerant, aggressive ” Empire. 

The political effects, actual and necessary, of the new 
Imperialism, as illustrated in the case of the greatest of 
imperialist Powers, may be thus summarised. It is a 
constant menace to peace, by furnishing continual tempta- 
tions to . further aggression upon lands occupied by lower 
races and by embroiling our nation with other nations of 
rival imperial ambitions ; to the sharp peril of war it adds 
the chronic danger and degradation of militarism, which not 
merely wastes the current physical and moral resources of 
the nations, but checks the very course of civilization. It 
consumes to an illimitable and incalculable extent the 
financial resources of a nation by military preparation, 
stopping the expenditure of the current income of the 
State upon productive public projects and burdening 
posterity with heavy loads of debt. Absorbing the public 
money, time, interest and energy on costly and unprofitable 
work of territorial aggrandisement, it thus wastes those 
energies of public life in the governing classes and the 
nations which are needed for internal reforms and for the 
cultivation of the arts of material and intellectual progress 
at home. Finally, the spirit, the policy, and the methods of 
Imperialism are hostile to the institutions of popular self- 
government, favouring forms of political tyranny and social 
authority which are the (deadly enemies of effective liberty 
and equality. 





T hough it can hardly be denied that the ambitions of 
individuals or nations have been the chief conscious 
motives in Imperialism, it is possible to maintain that 
here, as in other departments of human history, certain 
larger hidden forces operate towards the progress of 
humanity. The powerful hold which biological conceptions 
have obtained over the pioneers in the science of sociology 
is easily intelligible. It is only natural that the laws of 
individual and specific progress so clearly discerned in other 
parts of the animal kingdom should be rigorously applied 
to man ; it is not unnatural that the deflections or reversals 
of the laws of lower life by certain other laws, which only 
attain importance in the higher psychical reaches of the 
genus homo^ should be underrated, misinterpreted, or ignored. 
The biologist who enters human history often finds himself 
confronted by intellectual antagonists who regard him as an 
interloper, and seek to raise the barrier between human 
and animal development. Indeed, from the ranks of the 
biological profession itself, scientists of such eminence as 
Huxley and A. R. Wallace have lent themselves to this 
separatism, distinguishing the ethical or spiritual progress 
of the human race from the general cosmic process, and 
endowing men with qualities and with laws of action 
different in kind from those which obtain in the rest of the 
animal kingdom. A reaction against the abrupt dogmatism 


imperialism: a study 

of this position has led many others to an equally abrupt and 
equally dogmatic assertion of the laws of the lower forms of 
physical struggle and selection which explain or describe 
progress in lower animals as sufficient for all purposes of 

Sociologists have shown themselves in some cases eager 
to accept this view, and apply it to defend the necessity, the 
utility, and even the righteousness of maintaining to the 
point of complete subjugation or extermination the physical 
struggle between races and types of civilization. 

Admitting that the efficiency of a nation or a race requires 
a suspension of intestine warfare, at any rate d Voutrancey 
the crude struggle on the larger plane must, they urge, be 
maintained. It serves, indeed, two related purposes. A 
constant struggle with other races or nations is demanded 
for the maintenance and progress of a race or nation ; 
abate the necessity of the struggle and the vigour of the 
race flags and perishes. Thus it is to the real interest of a 
vigorous race to be kept up to a high pitch of external 
efficiency by contest, chiefly by w^ay of war with inferior 
races, and with equal races by the struggle for trade routes 
and for the sources of raw material and of food supply.” 
“ This,” adds Professor Karl Pearson, ‘‘ is the natural history 
view of mankind, and I do not think you can in its main 
features subvert it.”^ 

Others, taking the wider cosmic standpoint, insist that the 
progress of humanity itself requires the maintenance of a 
selective and destructive struggle between races which 
embody different powers and capacities, different types of 
civilization. It is desirable that the earth should be peopled, 
governed, and developed, as far as possible, by the races 
which can do this work best, i.e. by the races of highest 
“ social efficiency ” ; thest races must assert their right by 
^ Natifiual Life from the Standpoint of Sciencty p. 44 (Black, 1901). ‘ 



conquering, ousting, subjugating, or extinguishing races of 
lower social efficiency. The good of the world, the true 
cause of humanity, demands that this struggle, physical, 
industrial, political, continue, until an ideal settlement is 
reached whereby the most socially efficient nations rule the 
earth in accordance with their several kinds and degrees 
of social efficiency. This principle is clearly enunciated by 
M. Edmond Demolins, who describes it as beiqg ** as in- 
disputable as the law of gravitation. 

“ When one race shows itself superior to another in 
the various externals of domestic life, it inevitably in the 
long run gets the upper hand in public life and establishes 
its predominance. Whether this predominance is asserted 
by peaceable means or feats of arms, it is none the less, when 
the proper time comes, officially established, and afterwards 
unreservedly acknowledged. I have said that this law is 
the only thing which accounts for the history of the human 
race, and the revolutions of empires, and that, moreover, it 
explains and justifies the appropriation by Europeans of 
territories in Asia, Africa, and Oceania, and the whole of 
our colonial development.”^ 

The western European nations with their colonies repre- 
sent the socially efficient nations, in various degrees. Some 
writers, American and English, such as Professor Giddings 
and Mr. Kidd, believe that the Teutonic races, and in 
particular the Anglo-Saxon branches, represent the highest 
order of efficiency, in which notion they are supported by 
a little group of Anglophil Frenchmen. 

This genuine and confident conviction about “ social 
efficiency” must be taken as the chief moral support of 
Imperialism. ‘‘ Human progress requires the maintenance 
of the race struggle, in which the weakest races shall go uiider 
while the ^ socially efficient ^ races survive and flourish : 

^ Boers or British f p. 24. 


imperialism: a study 

we arc the ‘ socially efficient ’ race.” So runs the imperialist 

Now, thus closely stated, the meaning of the term 
‘‘ socially efficient ” becomes evident. It is simply the 
antithesis of ** weak,” and is equivalent to ‘‘ strong in 
the. struggle of life.” Taken at the first blush it suggests 
admitted moral and intellectual virtues of some broad 
general kiqd, and is afterwards taken to imply such qualities. 
But applied in the present “ natural history ” sense it signifies 
nothing more or less than capacity to beat other races, who, 
from their failure, are spoken of as “ lower.” It is merely 
a repetition of the phrase “ survival of the fittest,” the 
meaning of which is clear when the question is put, “ Fittest 
to do what ? ” and the answer follows, “ Fittest to survive.” 

It is true that “ social efficiency ” seems to imply much 
more than mere fighting capacity in war and trade, and, if we 
were to take into account all qualities which go to make 
a good society, we should include much more ; but from our 
present natural history ” standpoint it is evident that 
these must be excluded and only those included which aid 
directly in the struggle. 

* Giving’, then, the proper value to the terms, it simply 
comes to this. ‘‘ In the history of man, as throughout 
nature, stronger races have continually trampled down, 
enslaved, and exterminated other races.” The biologist 
says : “ This is so rooted in nature, including human 

nature, that it must go on.” He adds : “ It has been the 
prime condition and mode of progress in the past, therefore 
it is desirable it should go on. It must go on, it ought to go 

So easily we glide from natural history to ethics, and 
find in utility a moral sanction for the race struggle. Now, 
Imperialism is nothing but this natural history doctrine 
regarded from the standpoint of one’s own nation. We 



represent the socially efficient nation, we have conquered and 
acquired dominion and territory in the past : we must go on, 
it is our destiny, one which is serviceable to ourselves and 
to the world, our duty. 

Thus, emerging from natural history, the doctrine soon 
takes on a large complexity of ethical and religious finery, 
and we are wafted into an elevated atmosphere of “ imperial 
Christianity,” a “ mission of civilization,” in whiclv we are to 
teach “ the arts of good government ” and “ the dignity 
of labour.” 


That the power to do anything constitutes a right 
and even a duty to do it, is perhaps the commonest, the 
most “ natural ” of temperamental fallacies. Even 
Professor Pearson does not avoid it, when, after an able 
vindication of the necessity of intra-race selection and of 
race struggle, he speaks of “ our right to work the unutilised 
resources of earth, be they in Africa or in Asia.”^ 

This belief in a “ divine right ” of force, which teachers 
like Carlyle, Kingsley, Ruskin did so much to foster, is 
primarily responsible for the transmutation of a natural 
history law into a moral enthusiasm. 

Elsewhere I have dwelt with so much insistence on the more 
sordid and calculating motives which direct Imperialism 
that I am anxious here to do justice to the nobler aspects 
of the sentiment of Imperialism, interpreted through a 
naive rendering of science into a gospel of arduous chivalry. 
Such a revelation is conveyed in the charming nature 
and buoyant career .of Hubert Hervey, of the British South 
African Chartered Company, as rendered by his fellow- 
adventurer, Earl Grey. In his career we have Imperialism 
at its best in action, and what is ^better for our purpose, a 

National Life^ p. 46. 


imperialism: a study > 

most ingenuous and instructive attempt to .set forth the 
gist of the imperialist philosophy. 

Probably every one would agree that an Englishman 
would be right in considering his way of looking at the 
world and at life better than that of the Maori or Hottentot, 
and no one will object in the abstract to England doing 
her best to impose her better and higher view on those 
savages, ^ut the same idea will carry you much farther. 
In so far as an Englishman differs in essentials from a Swede 
or Belgian, he believes that he represents a more perfectly 
developed standard of general excellence. Yes, and even 
those nations nearest to us in mind and sentiment — German 
and Scandinavian — ^we regard on the whole as not so 
excellent as ourselves, comparing their typical characteristics 
with ours. Were this not so, our energies would be directed 
to becoming what they are. Without doing this, however, 
we may well endeavour to pick Out their best qualities and 
add them to ours, believing that our compound will be 
superior to the foreign stock. 

It is the mark of an independent nation that it should 
feel thus. How far such a feeling is, in any particular case, 
justified, history alone decides. But it is essential that 
each claimant for the first place should put forward his 
whole energy to prove his right. This is the moral justi- 
fication for international strife and for war, and a great 
change must come over the world and over men’s minds 
before there can be any question of everlasting universal 
peace, or the settlement of all international differences by 
arbitration. More especially must the difficulty caused by 
the absence of a generally recognised standard of justice 
be felt in the case of contact between civilized and un- 
civilized races. Is there any likelihood of the gulf between 
the white and the black man being bridged within any 
period of time that we can foresee ? Can there be any 



doubt that the white man must, and will, impose his 
superior civilization on the coloured races ? The rivalry 
of the principal European countries in extending their 
influence over other continents should lead naturally to the 
evolution of the highest attainable type of government of 
subject races by the superior qualities of their rulers.”^ 

Here is the undiluted gospel of Imperialism, the fact of 
physical stugglc between white races, the fact ^of white 
subjugation of lower races, the necessity based upon these 
facts, the utility based upon the necessity, and the right or 
duty upon the utility. As a revelation of the purer spirit 
of Imperialism it is not to be bettered. The Englishman 
believes he is a more excellent type than any other man ; 
he believes that he is better able to assimilate any special 
virtues others may have ; he believes that this character 
gives him a right to rule which no other can possess. Mr. 
Hervey admits that the patriotic Frenchman, the German, 
the Russian feels in the same way his sense of superiority 
and the rights it confers on him ; so much the better (and 
here he is in line with , Professor Pearson), for this cross- 
conviction and these cross-interests intensify the struggle 
of white races, and ensure the survival and progressive 
fitness of the fittest. 

So long as we regard this Imperialism exclusively from 
the standpoint of the English, or any other single nation, 
its full rationale escapes us. It is essential to the mainten- 
ance of the struggle of nations, which is to quicken vigour 
and select the fittest or most efficient, that each competitor 
shall be stimulated to put forth his fullest effort by the 
same feelings regarding the superiority, the destiny, the 
rights and imperial duties of his country as the English 
imperialist entertains regarding England. And this * is 
just what we seem to. find. • 

# ^ Memoir of Hubert Hervey^ by Earl Grey (Arnold, XS99). 


imperialism: a study 

The Englishman is genuinely confident in the superior 
fitness of England for any work she may essay in the civiliza- 
tion of the world. This is the supreme principle of the 
imperialist statesman, so well expressed in Lord Rosebery’s 
description of the British Empire as the greatest secular 
agency for good the world has ever seen,” and in Mr. 
Chamberlain’s conviction^ that ‘‘ the Anglo-Saxon race 
is infalliljly destined to be the predominant force in the 
history and civilization of the world.” Of the superior 
competence of Englishmen for all purposes of government, 
quite irrespective of climatic, racial, or any other conditions, 
there is no touch of doubt in the average man. Why, I 
suppose you imagine we could undertake to govern France 
better than Frenchmen can govern her ? ” I heard put as 
an ironical poser in a discussion on British capacity. The 
triumphant retort, Why, of course I do,’^ was no 
rhetorical paradox, but a perfectly genuine expression of 
the real conviction of most Englishmen, 

Now, the French Chauvinist, the German colonialist, 
the Russian Pan-Slavist, the American expansionist, enter- 
tain the same general conviction, with the same intensity, 
regarding the capacity, the destiny, the rights of their own 
nation. These feelings have, perhaps, come more clearly 
into the forefront of our national consciousness than in the 
case of any other nation, but events are rapidly educating 
the same imperial aspirations in all our chief industrial and 
political competitors. 

In our own day Victor Hugo declares France ‘ the 
saviour of nations,’ and bursts out, ‘ Non, France, I’univers 
a besoin que tu vives ! Je le redis, la France est un besoin 
des hommes.’ Villari, echoing the illustrious Gioberti, 
claims for Italy the primacy among nations. The Kaiser 
tells his people, * Der afite gute Gott has always been on 

^ Foreign and Colonial Speeches, p. 6. 



our side*’ M. PobyedonostseH points to the freedom of 
Russia from the shibboleths of a decadent civilization, and 
looks to the young and vigorous Slavonic stock as the 
residuary legatee of the treasures and conquests of the past. 
The Americans are not less confident than in the days of 
Martin Chuzzlewit that it is their mission to ‘ run this 

N9r are these barren sentiments ; in various pjrts of the 
world they have inspired young soldiers, politicians, and 
missionaries to a practical direction of the resources of 
France, Germany, Italy, Russia, the United States towards 
territorial expansion. 

We are now in a position to restate and test the scientific 
basis of Imperialism regarded as a world«policy. The 
maintenance of a military and industrial struggle for life 
and wealth among nations is desirable in order to quicken 
the vigour and social efficiency of the several competitors, 
and so to furnish a natural process of selection, which shall 
give an ever larger and intenser control over the govern- 
ment and the economic, exploitation of the world into the 
hands of the nation or nations representing the highest 
standard of civilization or social efficiency, and by the 
elimination or subjugation of the inefficient shall raise the 
standard of the government of humanity. 

This statement withdraws the issue from the purely 
national — political, and from the distinctively ethical stand- 
points, referring it back to its scientific basis in the laws or 
analogies of biology. 

Here we can profitably start from a statement of Professor 
K. Pearson. ‘‘ History shows me one way, and one way 
only, in which a high state of civilization has been produced, 
namely, the struggle of race with race, and the survival of 
the physically and mentally fitter race. If men want to 
^ G. P. Gooch in The Heart oj the Empire^ i 333 


imperialism: a study 

know whether the lower races of man can evolve a higher 
type, I fear the only course is to leave them to fight it out 
among themselves, and even then the struggle for existence 
between individual and individual, between tribe and tribe, 
may not be supported by that physical selection due to a^ 
particular element, on which, probably, so much of the 
Aryans’ success depended.” 

Now, assuming that this is a true account of the evolution 
of civilization during the past, is it essential that the same 
methods of selection must dominate the future ? or are 
there any forces which have been coming into play during 
the later periods of human history that deeply modify, 
suspend, and even reverse the operations of selective forces 
that dominate the rest of nature > 

In the very work from which I quote, Professor Pearson 
furnishes a complete answer to his own contention for the 
necessity of this physical struggle between races. 

In the last sentence of the passage given above, he seems 
to recognize the utility in lower races of the physical struggle 
for life between ‘‘ individuals ” iji the same tribe. But 
his general position as a “ socialist ” is very different. In 
order that a tribe, a nation, or other society may be able 
to compete successfully with another society, the individual 
struggle for life within the society itself must be suspended. 
The conpetitive vigour, the social efficiency, of the nation 
requires a saving of the friction of individual competition 
for life or for the means of life. Now this is in itself a 
reversal of the generally recognized law of progress through- 
out the animal world, in which the struggle for food and 
other livelihood is held to be essential to the progress of 
the species, and this though every species is engaged in 
more or less direct competition for food, etc., with other 
species. Co-operation, scfcial solidarity, is indeed recognized 
as an adjunct of progress in many of the higher species, 



but the struggle, between individuals for a restricted supply 
of food or other necessaries is maintained as a leading 
instrument of progress by rejection of the physically unfit. 

Now Professor Pearson justly recognizes and boldly 
admits the danger which attends the humanitarianism 
that has in large measure suspended the “ struggle for 
life ’’ among individuals, and has incited modern civilized 
nations to secure for all individuals born in their r^idst the 
food, shelter, and other necessaries enabling them to grow 
to maturity and to propagate their kind. 

He sees quite clearly that this mere suspension of the 
individual struggle for life not only is not essential to the 
solidarity and efficiency of the nation, but that it impairs 
those virtues by burdening society with a horde of physical 
and moral weaklings, who would have been eliminated 
under earlier forms of the struggle for life. He rightly 
enforces the doctrine that a nation which is reproduced 
from its bad stock more than from its better stock is doomed 
to deterioration of physique and morale. It is as essential 
to the progress of man as to that of any other animal, as 
essential in the future as in the past, that reproduction 
shall be from the better stock and that the worst stock 
shall be eliminated. Humanitarianism and the sense of 
social solidarity by no means recognize, or even admit, 
that this condition should be sacrificed ; they merely 
impose new methods on the process of selection. 

Irrational nature selects wastefully and with the maximum 
of pain and misery, requiring innumerable individuals to 
be born in order that they may struggle and perish. Rational 
humanity would economize and humanize the struggle 
by substituting a rational, social test of parenthood for the 
destruction of children by starvation, disease, or weakness. 

' To preventVeproduction from bad stock, however difficult 
atid dangerous it may be, is obviously the first duty of 

M 163 


an organized society, acting alike in its own self-defence 
and for the interests of its individual members. It is not 
necessary for the safety and progress of society that unfit ” 
children should die, it is necessary that they should not be 
born, and ultimately the society which prospers most in 
the character of its members will be the one which best 
fulfils this preventive duty. 

Yet, nfhen Professor Pearson passes from a society of 
individuals to the society of nations, which we call humanity, 
he insists upon retaining the older, cruder, irrational method 
of securing progress, the primitive struggle for physical 
existence. Why ? If it is profitable and consistent with 
progress to put down the primitive struggle for life among 
individuals with one another, the family and tribal feuds' 
which survive even in fairly developed societies, and to 
enlarge the area of social internal peace until it covers a 
whole nation, may we not go farther and seek, with hope, 
to substitute international peace and co-operation, first 
among the more civilized and more nearly related nations, 
and finally throughout the complete society of the human 
race ? If progress is helped by substituting rational selection 
for the struggle for life within small groups, and afterwards 
within the larger national groups, why may we not extend 
the same mode of progress to a federation of European 
States, and finally to a world-federation ? I am not now 
concerned with the grave practical difficulties besetting 
such an achievement, but with the scientific theory. 

Although a certain sort of individual efficiency is sacrificed 
by repressing private war within a tribe or nation, it is 
rightly judged that the gain in tribal or national unity and 
efficiency outweighs that loss. May not a similar biological 
and rational economy be subserved by substituting govern- 
ment for anarchy among^nations ? We admit that a nation 
is strengthened by putting down internecine tribal warfare ; 



what finality attaches to the arbitrary social group we term 
a nation ” which obliges us to reverse the economy appli- 
cable to tribes when we come to deal with nations ? 

Two objections are raised against this idea of inter- 
nationalism. One is historical in its nature ; it consists 
in a denial that a society of nations does or can exist at 
the present time or in any future which concerns us. The 
physical and psychical relations which exist betwecjR nations, 
it is urged, have no real analogy with those existing between 
individuals or tribes within a nation. Society is dependent 
on a certain homogeneity of character, interests, and 
sympathies of those who form it. In the ancient world 
this was seldom found of sufficient strength save among 
close neighbours, and the city-state was the true social 
type ; the actual and positive relations of these city-states 
with one another were commonly those of war, modified by 
transitory compacts, which rarely led them into any truly 
national unity. In such a condition close-welded co- 
operation of citizens was essential as a condition of civic 
survival and progress, arid a struggle for life between the 
several city-states was a means of progress in accordance 
with the biological law. The nation-state stands now 
where the city-state stood in ancient Greece or mediaeval 
Italy ; there remains the same historical and even ethical 
necessity to retain the struggle between nations now as 
to retain the inter-civic struggle in earlier times. 

Social psychologists attempt to fortify this position by 
laying emphasis upon the prime psychical condition of a 
national life. The possible area of a genuine society, 9 , 
nation, is determined by the extension of a “ consciousness 
of kind,” an “ethical like-mindedness,” ^ This 
applied as a limiting condition by»a “ little Englander ” or 
^ an expansive principle to justify imperial expansion, 

'Professor Giddings, Empir« and Democracy^ pp. 10, 51. 

imperialism: a study 

according to the quantity and quality of likcrinindedness 
taken as the basis of social unity in a ** nation ’’ or an 
empire.” The most precise statement of this doctrine 
in its application as a barrier to ethical and political inter- 
nationalism is that of Dr. Bosanquet. “ The nation-state 
is the widest organization which has the common experience 
necessary to found a common life.”* He carries the 
finality of the national type of society so far as virtually to 
repudiate the ethical fact and the utility of the conception 
of humanity. According to the current ideas of our 
civilization, a great part of the lives which are being lived 
and have been lived by mankind are not lives worth living, 
in the sense of embodying qualities for which life seems 
valuable to us. This being so, it seems to follow that the 
object of our ethical idea of humanity is not really mankind 
as a single community. Putting aside the impossibilities 
arising from succession in time, we see that no such identical 
experience can be pre-supposed in all mankind as is 
necessary to effective membership of a common society 
and exercise of a general will.”^ Though a subtle qualifica- 
tion follows, based on the duty of States to recognize 
humanity, not as a fact but as a type of life, “ and in accord- 
ance with it to recognize and deal with the rights of alien 
individuals and communities,” the real upshot of this line 
of thought is to emphasise the ethical self-sufficiency of a 
nation and to deny the validity of any practical standard 
of the conduct of nations towards one another, at any rate 
so far as the relations between higher and lower, or eastern 
and western, nations are concerned. 

This view is stoutly supported by some sociologists and 
statesmen from the juridical standpoint. There can, we 
are told, be no real ‘‘ fights ” of nations because there 
exists no ** sanction,” no recognized tribunal to define and 
^ Tbe PbUosopbical Theory of the Stau, p. 320. * Op, ciu p. 329. 



enforce rights.^ The legal rigour of this position I am 
not greatly concerned to question. It may here suffice to 
say that the maintenance under ordinary conditions of 
treaty relations^ international credit and exchange, a 
common postal, and within narrower limits, a common 
railway system, not to mention the actual machinery of 
conventions and conferences for concerted international 
action, and the whole unwritten law of war yid inter- 
national courtesies, embassies, consulates, and the like — all 
these things rest upon a basis of recognition of certain 
reciprocal duties, the neglect or violation of which would be 
punished by forfeiture of most favoured nations? treatment 
in the future, and by the reprobation and the possibly 
combined intervention of other States. 


We have here at least a real beginning of effective inter- 
national federation, with the rudiments of legal sanction 
for the establishment and enforcement of rights. 

The studied ignoring of those vital facts in the more 
recent statecraft, and the reversion, alike of legal theorists 
and high politicians of the Bismarck school, to a nationalism 
which emphasises the exclusive rather than the inclusive 
aspect of patriotism and assumes the antagonism of nations 
as an all-important and a final fact, form the most dangerous 
and discreditable factor of modem politics. This conduct 
in politics we have already in part explained in our analysis 
of the economic driving forces that exhibit certain sectional 
interests and orders within the nation usurping the national 
will and enforcing their private advantages, which rest upon 
international antagonism, to the detriment of the national 
advantage, which is identical wit^ that of other nations. 

^ On this point see the admirable chapter ** International Rights ” in L. T. 
flobhouse’s Democracy and Reaction (Unwin, 1904). 



This obstinate halt in the evolution of such relations 
at the limit of political nationality now reached will be 
recognized as the most difficult of all present political 
phenomena for the future historian to explain. The 
community of interests between nations is so great, so 
multifarious, and so obvious, the waste, pain, and damage of 
conflicts so gross and palpable, that to those who do not 
understand the strong sectional control in every modern 
State it may well appear that some natural barriers, 
race, boundaries, or colour make any real extension of 
“ society ” outside the area of nationality impossible. 

But to ascribe finality to nationalism upon the ground 
that members of different nations lack “ the common 
experience necessary to found a common life is a very 
arbitrary reading of modern history. Taking the most 
inward meaning of experience, which gives most importance 
to the racial and traditional characters that mark the 
divergences of nationality, we are obliged to admit that 
the fund of experience common to peoples of different 
nationality is growing with gr^at rapidity under the 
numerous, swift, and accurate modes of intercommunication 
which mark the latest phases of civilization. It is surely 
true that the dwellers of large towns in all the most 
advanced European States, an ever-growing proportion of 
the total population, have, not merely in the externals of 
their lives, but in the chief formative influences of their 
reading, their art, science, recreation, a larger community 
of experience than existed a century ago among the more 
distant members of any single European nation, whether 
dwelling in country or in town. Direct intercommunica- 
tion of persons, goods, and information is so widely extended 
and so rapidly advancing that this growth of “ the common 
experience necessary to ’found a common life’’ beyond 
the area of nationality is surely the most mark-worthy 



feature of the age. Making, then, every due allowance for 
the subjective factors of national character which temper 
or transmute the same external phenomena, there surely 
exists, at any rate among the more conscious and more 
educated sections of the chief European nations, a degree 
of true “ like-mindedness,” which forms the psychical 
basis of some rudimentary internationalism in the field of 
politics. Indeed it is curious and instructive t<^ observe 
that while some of those most insistent upon “ like-minded- 
ness ” and “ common experience,” as the tests of a true 
social area, apply them in defence of existing nationalities 
and in repudiation of attempts to absorb alien nationalities, 
others, like Professor Giddings, apply them in the advocacy 
of expansion and Imperialism. 

Surely there is k third alternative to the policy of national 
independence on the one hand, and of the right of conquest 
by which the more efficient nation absorbs the less efficient 
nation on the other, the alternative of experimental and 
progressive federation, which, proceeding on the line of 
greatest common experience, shall weave formal bonds 
of political attachment between the most “ like-minded ” 
nations, extending them to others as common experience 
grows wider, until an effective political federation is 
established, comprising the whole of ‘‘ the civilized world,” 
i.e. all those nations which have attained a considerable fund 
of that “ common experience ” comprised under the head 
of civilization. 

This idea does not conflict with the preservation of what 
is really essential and valuable in nationalism, nor does it 
imply a suspension or abolition of any form of struggle by 
which the true character of a nation may express itself, 
in industry, in politics, in art or literature. 

If it be objected that the rec^isite amount of “ like- 
mindedness ” or “ common experience ” does not exist 


imperialism: a study 

even among the nations most subjected to modem assimil- 
ative influences, that the forces of racial and national 
antagonism even there preclude any truly effective union, 
I can only repeat that this is a matter for experiment, and 
that the experiment has never been tried. Racial and 
national antagonisms have been so fed, fostered, and 
inflamed, for the class and personal ends and interests 
which have controlled politics, that the deeper underlying 
sympathies and community of different peoples have 
never been permitted free expression, much less political 
assertion. The most potent and pervasive forces in the 
industrial, intellectual, and moral life of most European 
races, so far as the masses of the peoples are concerned, have 
so rapidly and closely assimilated during the last century 
as of necessity to furnish a large commoil body of thought 
and feeling, interests and aspirations which furnish a 

soul ” for internationalism. 

The main economic conditions affecting the working life 
of the masses of the peoples, both in town and country, 
on the one hand, the matter and methods of education 
through the school, the church, the press upon the other, 
show features of similarity so much stronger and more 
numerous than those of difference as to make it a safe 
assertion that the peoples of Europe are far closer akin 
in actual interests than their governments, and that this 
common bond is already so strong as to furnish a solid and 
stable foundation for political federal institutions, if only 
the obstruction of class governments could be broken down 
and the real will of the peoples set in the seat of authority. 
To take the commonest of concrete instances, it is at least 
probable that the body of the workers in different countries 
who fight and pay for wars would refuse to fight and pay in 
the future if they weiti allowed to understand the real 
nature of the issues used to inflame them. 


If this view is correct, the mere facts that wars Still occur 
and that national animosities are continually flaring up 
must not be taken as proof that sufficient common sympathy 
and experience does not exist between the different nations 
to render impossible a suspension of physical conflict and 
the establishment of a political machinery required to 
maintain peace. 

To hold this position it is not necessary to^ exaggerate 
the extent of this international community of interests. 
If any considerable amount of real community exists, it 
furnishes the spirit which should and might inform a body 
of political institutions. Here is the significance of the 
recent^ Hague Conference, alike in its successes and its 
failure. Its success, the mere fact that it was held and the 
permanent nucleus of internationalism it created, attests a 
real and felt identity of interests among different nations 
in the maintenance of peace ; its failure and the open 
derision expressed by many politicians merely indicate the 
presence in high places of cliques and classes opposed in 
their interests and feelings to those of the peoples, and the 
necessity of dethroning these enemies of the people if the 
new cause of internationalism is to advance. Secure popular 
government, in substance and in form, and you secure 
internationalism : retain class government, and you retain 
military Imperialism and international conflicts. 


In following out the psychical argument against regarding 
nations as final social areas, I seem to have wandered 
very far from the biological basis, the alleged necessity 
of maintaining conflicts between nations for purposes of 
“ natural selection.” In reality*! have come round precisely 

imperialism: a study 

to the point of divergence. Assuming it were possible to 
enthrone the will of the peoples and so to secure institutions 
of internationalism with a suspension of war, would the 
individuality of a nation suffer, would it lose vigour, become 
less efficient and perish ? Is the maintenance of physical 
conflict essential to the “ natural selection of nations ? 

Turn to the suspension of the cruder physical struggle 
which takes place in the evolution of tribal or national 
solidarity.^ As such national organization becomes stronger 
and more skilful the ravages of intestine strife, starvation, 
and certain diseases cease to be selective instruments, and 
the kind of individual fitness which was tested by them 
is superseded ; the vast expenditure of individual energy 
formerly engaged in protecting life and in securing necessaries 
of life is reduced to insignificant dimensions ; but the struggle 
for individual life is not abated, it is simply shifted on to 
higher planes than that of bare animal existence, nourishment 
and propagation. Instead of struggling for these simpler 
vital ends, individuals now struggle with all the extra energy 
spared from the earlier struggles for other ends of an enlarged 
and more complex life, for comfort and wealth, for place 
and personal honour, for skill, knowledge, character, and 
even higher forms of self-expression, and for services to their 
fellow-men, with whom they have identified themselves 
in that expanded individuality we term altruism or public 

Individuality does not suffer but greatly gains by the 
suppression of the lower struggle ; there is more energy, 
greater scope for its expression, a wider field of close 
competitors ; and higher and more varied forms of fitness 
are tested and evoked. It is not even true that the struggle 
ceases to be physical ; the strain and the support of the 
higher forms of struggle, bven in the topmost intellectual 
and moral planes, are largely physical ; the health and 



nervous energy which take part in the struggles of the 
law or literature or on any intellectual arena are chief 
requisites if not the supreme determinant of success. In 
all the higher forms of struggle an elimination of the 
physically unfit is still maintained, though the criteria of 
physical unfitness are not quite the same as in the primitive 
human struggles. How arbitrary are the convenient 
distinctions between physical, intellectual, and moral 
qualities and defects is nowise better illustrated than in the 
elaborate methods which modern complex civilization 
evolves for the detection, degradation, and final extinction 
of bad stock whose “ degeneracy ” is attested not less by 
physical than by mental and moral stigmata. The struggle 
for physical fitness never flags, but the physical forms part 
of a higher and more complex test of character determined 
by a higher standard of social utility. The point is this : 
national government, or State socialism, using the term 
in its broad sense, as a coercive and educative force, does 
not, in so far as it is wisely exercised, diminish the individual 
struggle, repress individual vigour, reduce the arena for its 
display. It does just the opposite ; it quickens and varies 
the struggle ; by equalising certain opportunities it keeps a 
fairer ring, from which chance or other factors alien to 
personal fitness are excluded ; it admits on more equal terms 
a larger number of competitors, and so furnishes a better 
test of fitness and a more reliable selection of the fittest. 

Professor Pearson rightly urges that truly enlightened 
national government will insist on mending the slow, painful, 
and irregular elimination of bad stock which goes on through 
progressive degeneracy by substituting some rational control 
of parentage, at least to the extent of preventing through 
public education, or if necessary by law, the propagation 
of certain surely recognized unfitnesses. 

^ Does a nation thus firmly planted in rational sclf- 


imperialism: a study 

government, with individual competition within its ranb 
conducted most keenly upon a wide variety of different 
fields, furnishing the keenest incentive to the education and 
display of every kind of personal originality, really require a 
maintenance of the crude form of physical struggle with 
other nations in order to maintain its character and progress ! 
If individuality does not disappear with the removal of 
the cruder struggle for life within the nation, why should 
the valid force of nationality disappear if a corresponding 
change takes place in the nature of international conflict ? 

Biology furnishes no reason for believing that the 
competition among nations must always remain a crude 
physical struggle, and that the substitution of rational for 
“ natural ” selection among individual members of a nation 
cannot be extended to the selection of nations and of races. 


The history of past nations indeed gives an appearance 
of natural necessity to imperial expansion and to the military 
policy which is its instrument, and many who deplore this 
necessity accept it. An American writer in a brilliant 
monograph^ argues the perpetual necessity of wars of 
conquest and of the Imperialism which such wars express, 
as following from “ the law of decreasing returns.” A 
population on a limited area of land not only tends to grow 
but actually grows faster than the food supply that is 
available ; improvement in the arts of cultivation does 
not enable a people to obtain full subsistence for its growing 
population, hence a natural and necessary pressure for 
access to new rich land, and conflicts with and victories 
over neighbours who seek to hold their own, or are even 

^ ** War and Economics,*’ by Professor £. van Dyke Robinson, Political Science 
Quarterly^ Dec. 1900. 



actuated by the same needs of territorial expansion. Hunger 
is a necessary spur to migration, and where emigrants, 
planting themselves successfully upon new fertile lands, 
formerly unoccupied or occupied by people whom they 
have subjugated, desire to retain the political union with 
the mother country, an unlimited expansion of national 
areas ensues. Whether such expansion takes shape in 
genuine colonization or in what is here proper?J^ distin- 
guished as Imperialism, involving centralized government 
and forcible control of inferior races,” matters little to 
this wide argument. The essence of this policy is the 
acquisition of an expanding area for food supply. A nation 
with growing population must either send a constant flow 
of population into other lands to grow food for themselves, 
or, failing this, it must produce at home an ever-growing 
surplus of manufactures which evade the law of decreasing 
returns and find markets for them, so as to obtain payment 
in food from foreign lands, which, in their turn, are thus 
forced more quickly to experience the pinch of the same 
natural law. As more * nations pursue this course they 
either realize directly the pressure of the law driving them 
to find new lands for their surplus population, or they find 
themselves embroiled in an ever fiercer competition with 
rival manufacturing nations seeking a share in an over- 
stocked or too slowly expanding market for manufactures. 
Imperialism lies in both directions, and cannot be avoided. 
“ The cause of war is as permanent as hunger itself, since 
both spring from the same source, the law of diminishing 
returns. So long as that persists, war must remain, in the 
last analysis, a national business undertaking, designed to 
procure or preserve foreign markets, that is, the means of 
continued growth and prosperity. * Chacun doit grandir 
jpu mourir’. 

^ Robinson, Political Science Quarterly, p. bzz. 


imperialism: a study 

Now the finality of this alleged necessity has often been 
subjected to incidental criticism, so far as Great Britain 
is concerned. Imperialism, it has been shown, is not in 
fact necessitated in order to obtain by trade an increased 
food supply which should keep pace with the growth of 
British population, nor has it chiefly been engaged in 
forwarding such trade ; still less is it engaged in finding 
land up?hi which our surplus population may subsist and 

But the validity of the whole argument from natural 
history is contestable. As man grows in civilization, i.e. 
in the art of applying reason to the adjustment of his 
relations with his physical and social environment, he 
obtains a corresponding power to extricate himself from the 
necessity which dominates the lower animal world. He can 
avoid the necessity of war and expansion in two ways, by 
a progressive mitigation of the law of diminishing returns 
in agriculture and the extractive arts, and by limiting the 
rate of growth of population. The tendency of rational 
civilization is to employ both methods. It may fairly be 
maintained that reason is educated in individual men, and 
is applied to further a co-operative policy, chiefly by acts 
of choice which are directed to avoid the hardships and 
perils of war and the expansive practices. In. animal life, 
and in man just so far as he resembles other animals, war 
and extension of territory form the only means of providing 
for a growth of population which is determined by a mere 
interaction of sexual instincts and physical conditions of 
environment. But from very early times this dominion 
of irrational forces, which finds direct expression in the 
law of diminishing returns,” is qualified by two sets of 
checks. On the one ha^id, improvements in agriculture 
and the beginnings of trade increase the quantity of human 
life which a given piece of land is able to support ; on the 



Other, customs relating to marriage and maintenance of 
children, often of a degraded character, such as exposure 
or infanticide, are added to the ‘‘ natural ” checks upon 
increase of population. Both forces represent the crude 
beginnings of “ reason or conscious human policy in its 
struggle to overcome the play of the non-rational forces 
of nature. Throughout history, so far as it is known, these 
rational forces have been so slow and feeble in thcif applica- 
tion as only to moderate or postpone the operation of 
“ the law of decreasing returns.” But this need not always 
continue to be the case. There is some ground to believe 
that both sets of rational checks may in the future be amply 
adequate to suspend or overcome the limitations of matter 
so far as the food supply of a nation on a given area is 
concerned. Progress in agriculture even of the most 
progressive nations of the past was very slow : modern 
science, which has achieved such marvels in revolutionizing 
the manufacturing and transport industries, is beginning 
more and more to concentrate its power on agriculture in 
such wise that the pace ®f progress in this art may be vastly 
accelerated. When the sciences of agricultural chemistry 
and botany are adequately reinforced by mechanics, scientific 
method being duly guided and enriched by garnering the 
empirical wisdom of great agricultural races whose whole 
practical genius has been centred for countless ages on 
minute cultivation, like the Chinese, and when to such 
improved knowledge of agricultural arts is added a per- 
fection of co-operative labour for those processes where 
this yields a true economy, the possibilities of intensive 
cultivation are virtually unlimited. These new conditions 
of a national policy of agriculture are themselves so important 
as to make it easily conceivable th^t a nation keenly set upon 
utilizing them might for a long time to come reverse 
the operation of “ the law of diminishing returns ” extracting 


imperialism: a study 

{rom its own proper lands an increasing stock of food to 
meet its “ natural ” growth of population without a 
more than proportionate increase of labour engaged in 
agriculture. In face of recent experiments in intensive 
and scientific agriculture and the practical substitution of 
skilled gardening for unskilled farming, it is impossible to 
deny that such a triumph of the laws of mind over the laws 
of matteMs probable in the most highly intelligent peoples. 
There are already manifested throughout Great Britain 
certain signs of such a set towards agriculture as took place 
in England during the middle of the eighteenth century 
and led them to relatively great improvements in crop 
growing and stock breeding. If a brief fashion and sportive 
interest on the part of a small well-to-do class could then 
produce what is not wrongly described as an “ agricultural 
revolution,^’ what might not be achieved now by vastly 
greater numbers, capital, and intelligence directed in a 
public policy and wielding the accumulated knowledge of 
modern science ? Many causes consciously contribute 
towards such a brilliant revival of British agriculture. The 
growing sense of the hygienic and military perils which 
attend a nation of town dwellers, whose powers of forcible 
resistance are impaired in just proportion as their depen- 
dence upon precarious foreign supplies of food increases, is 
driving the issue of restoring a people to the land into 
the forefront of politics. Modern scientific transport, 
hitherto centripetal in its main economy, now seems to 
tend more to become centrifugal, while the wider spread 
of culture does something, and may do much, to cause a 
moral and aesthetic revolt against the life and work of towns. 
A careful and drastic system of land reform which should 
aim at the net economy^ of individual enterprise and co- 
operative aid for agriculture is of course in Great Britain a 
prior condition to all rapid and effective progress. All 



these conditions are within the power of man, and belong 
to rational policy ; once secured, it is at least probable 
that private incentives to gain, bringing brain and capital 
to bear upon the land, might in this or any other industrial 
country produce so vast an increase of the productiveness 
of the soil as to destroy completely all speciousness which 
history attaches to the necessity of expansion for purposes 
of food supply. V 

It is not necessary here to discuss the part played 
respectively by public policy and private initiative in the 
development of this economy of intensive cultivation. It 
is sufficient to insist that it furnishes the larger half of a 
complete answer to the alleged natural necessity of expansion. 
The other half has reference to a rational control of the 
growth of population, which must in any sound national 
economy tend more and more to replace the wasteful and 
cruel prodigality which nature unchecked by reason here as 
elsewhere displays. However difficult it may be, rational 
control of the quantity and quality of population is quite 
essential to the physical, and moral progress of a species 
which has striven successfully to suspend or stay the cruel 
and wasteful checks which disease, famine, pestilence, 
internecine warfare, and early savage usages employed 
in the struggle for existence. To stay the “ natural ” 
checks, and to refuse to substitute “ rational ’’ checks, 
is to promote not merely the unrestricted growth of 
population, but the survival and multiplication of the 
physically and morally unfit, the least effective portion of 
the population, which is able to be born, reared, and to 
propagate its kind. How far the operation of the great 
public policy of preventing the propagation of certain 
definite forms of unfitness can best be left to the free play 
of individual interest and discretion, illuminated by the 
;gtowing knowledge of biological science, or how far such 



imperialism: a study 

private determination must be reinforced by public pressure, 
is a matter with which we need not here concern ourselves. 

But there is every reason to believe that both quantitative 
and . qualitative checks upon the ‘‘ natural ” growth of 
population are already operative in modern civilized com- 
munities, that they are already appreciably affecting the 
general growth of population, and that their operation is 
likely t«^ continue in the future. With the spread of 
biological and moral education the methods of moderating 
the growth of population may be expected to come more 
truly “ rational,” and in particular the increasing economic 
liberty and enlightenment of women will contribute to the 
eflScacy of this reasonable self-restraint. ^ This second check 
upon the false necessity assigned to the law of decreasing 
returns is not unrelated to the first. It is, in fact, its true 
complement. Taken by itself the improvement in methods 
of obtaining food might not suffice to do more than to 
postpone or hold in check for a period the law of limitation 
of the food supply obtainable from a national area. But if 
the same forces of human reason \yhich substitute intensive 
for extensive cultivation of the soil are at work imposing 
the same substitution in the cultivation of the species, 
checking the merely quantitative increase in order to secure 
a higher quality of individuation, this mutual reinforcement 
may secure the triumph of rational policy over the untamed 
forces of natural history. 

I have laboured this issue at some length because it is 
required in order to bring home the distinctively rational 
character of that choice of national life against which 
Imperialism sins so fatally. There is no natural necessity 
for a civilized nation to expand the area of its territory, 
in order either to increase its production of food and other 
forms of material wealth,*or to find markets for its increased 
products. Progress, alike for the nation and for the indi- 



vidual, consists in substituting everywhere an intensive 
or qualitative for an extensive or quantitative economy. 
The low-skilled farmer is given to spread his capital and 
labour over a large area of poorly cultivated land, wherever 
a large quantity of free or cheap land is available ; the 
skilled, competent farmer obtains a lar^^er net return by 
concentrating his productive power upon a smaller area 
scientifically cultivated, recognizing that the best r^e of his 
productive resources imposes a limit on the size of his farm. 
So with the economy of national resources — the craving and 
the necessity of expansion are signs of barbarism ; as 
civilization advances and industrial methods become more 
highly skilled and better differentiated, the need for 
expansion of territory is weakened, the progress of the 
nation concerns itself more and more with the intensive 
or qualitative development of its national resources. Size 
of territory can never be eliminated as a condition of progress, 
but it becomes relatively less important with each step 
from barbarism to civilization, and the idea of indefinite 
expansion as necessary ojr good is opposed to reason and 
sane policy. This was recognized by the most profound of 
ancient thinkers. “ There is,” wrote Aristotle, “ a certain 
degree of greatness fit for States as for all other things, 
living creatures, plants, instruments, for each has its proper 
virtuo and faculty, when neither very little nor yet excessively 
great.”^ That the tendency has ever been to excess is the 
commonplace of history. The true greatness of nations 
has been educated by the concentrated skill in the detailed 
development of limited national resources which the 
contracted area of the State has developed in them. ‘‘ It 
is to the burning vitality of compact, independent nations, 
the strong heart in the small body, to Judaea and to Athens, 

to Rome the republic, to the free cities of Italy, Germany, 


^ Pditia, Tii. 4. 


Imperialism: a study. 

and Flanders, to France, to Holland, and to England the 
island, that we owe the highest achievements in the things 
that make life most worth living/^^ 

If imperial expansion were really nothing other than a 
phase of the natural history of a nation it would be as idle 
to protest against it to argue with an earthquake. But 
the policy of civilized States differs from that of uncivilized 
States ili resting more largely upon deliberate conscious 
choice, partaking more definitely of the character of conduct. 
The same growth of collective reason which makes it 
technically possible for a nation to subsist and prosper by 
substituting an intensive for an extensive economy of 
national resources enables it by deliberate exercise of will 
to resist the will of the older destiny ” by which nations 
attaining a certain degree of development were led by a 
debilitating course of Imperialism to final collapse. 


Thus met, the biological argument is sometimes turned 
on to another track. 

“ If these nations,” it is argued, “ are no longer called 
upon to struggle for food, and check their growth of 
population while they increase their control over their 
material supplies, they will become effete for purposes of 
physical struggle ; giving way to an easy and luxurious life, 
they will be attacked by lower races multiplying freely and 
maintaining their military vigour, and will succumb in the 
conflict.” This is the danger indicated by Mr. C. H. 
Pearson in his interesting book National Life and Character, 
The whole argument, however, rests on a series of illusions 
regarding actual facts and tendencies. 

It is not true that tlie sole object and result of the 

^ Jmperium et by Bernard Holland, p. iz. 



Stoppage of individual warfare has been to increase the 
efficiency of the nation for the physical struggle with other 
nations. As man has grown from barbarism towards 
civilization, the struggle to adapt his material and social 
environment to purposes of better livelihood and life has 
continuously tended to replace the physical struggle for the 
land and food supply of other nations. This is precisely 
the triumph of intensive over extensive cultivil'fion : it 
implies a growing disposition to put that energy which 
formerly went to war into the arts of industry, and a growing 
success in the achievement. It is the need of peaceful, 
steady, orderly co-operation for this work, as the alternative 
to war, and not the needs of war itself, that furnishes the 
prime motive towards a suspension of internecine struggles, 
at any rate in most societies. This is a matter of pivotal 
importance in understanding social evolution. If the 
sole or main purpose of suspending individual conflict was to 
strengthen the purely military power of a tribe or nation, 
and the further evolution of society aimed at this sort of 
social efficiency, it might well be attended by the decay of 
individual freedom and initiative, by the sacrifice of 
individuality to a national life. The fact that this result 
has not occurred, that in modern civilized nations there 
exist far more individual freedom, energy, and initiative 
than in more primitive societies, attests the truth that 
military efficiency was not the first and sole object of social 
organization. In other words, the tendency of growing 
civilization on the national scale has been more and more 
to divert the struggle for life from a struggle with other 
nations to a struggle with en^vironment, and so to Utilize 
the fruits of reason as to divert a larger and larger proportion 
of energy to struggles for intellectual, moral, and aesthetic 
goods rather than for goods which tax the powers of the 
* earth, and which, conforming to the law of diminishing 


imperialism; a study 

returns are apt to bring them into conflict with other 

As nations advance towards civilization it becomes 
'less needful for them to contend with one another for land 
and food to support their increasing numbers, because 
their increased control of the industrial arts enables them 
to gain what they want by conquering nature instead of 
conqueJftag their fellow-men. 

This truth does not indeed disclose itself readily with 
its full brilliancy to the eyes of modern civilized peoples, 
whose greed for foreign wealth and foreign lands seems 
as fruitful a source of war as in more primitive times. 
The illusion that it is necessary and advantageous to fight 
for new territory and distant markets, while leaving most 
imperfectly developed the land and markets of their own 
nation, is slow to be dispelled. Its sources have been 
already explored ; it has been traced to the dominance of 
class interests in national politics. Democracy alone, if it 
be attainable, will serve to fasten on the national mind 
the full economy of substituting the inner struggle with the 
natural environment for the outer struggle with other 

If, as seems possible, the civilized white nations, gradually 
throwing off the yoke of class governments whose interests 
make for war and territorial expansion, restrict their 
increase of population by preventing reproduction from bad 
stock, while they devote their energies to utilizing their 
natural resources, the motives of international conflict 
will wane, and the sympathetic motives of commerce and 
friendly intercourse will maintain permanent peace on a 
basis of international union. 

Such a national econonjy would not only destroy the chief 
motives of war, it would profoundly modify the industrial 
struggle in which governments engage. Democracies chiefly 



concerned with developing their own markets would not 
need to spend men and money in fighting for the chance 
of inferior and less stable foreign markets. Such rivalry 
as was retained would be the rivalry not of nations but of* 
individual manufacturers and merchants within the nation ; 
the national aspect of industrial warfare, by tariffs and 
bounties and commercial treaties, would disappear. For 
the dangers and hostilities of national commerciaV^policies 
are due, as we have seen, almost entirely to the usurpation 
of the authority and political resources of the nations by 
certain commercial and financial interests. Depose these 
interests, and the deep, true, underlying harmonies of 
interest between peoples, which the prophets of P'ree Trade 
dimly perceived, will manifest themselves, and the necessity 
of permanent industrial warfare between nations will be 
recognized as an illusion analogous in nature and origin to 
the illusion of the biological necessity of war. 

The struggle for life is indeed a permanent factor in social 
progress, selection of the physically fit is a necessity, but as 
men become more rational they rationalize the struggle, 
substituting preventive for destructive methods of selection, 
and raising the standard of fitness from a crudely physical 
robustness to one which maintains physical endurance 
as the raw material of higher psychical activities. Thus, 
while men no longer fi^ht for food, their personal fitness 
is maintained, the struggle and the fitness are both raised 
to a higher plane. If this can take place in the struggle 
of individuals, it can take place in the struggle of nations. 
The economy of internationalism is the same as that of 
nationalism. As individuality does not disappear, but is 
raised and quickened by good national government, so 
nationality does not disappear but is raised and quickened 
by internationalism. * 

War and commercial tariffs are the crudest and most 



wasteful forms of national struggles, testing the lowest 
forms of national fitness. Let international government 
put down wars and establish Free Trade, the truly vital 
struggles of national expression will begin. As in the case 
of individuals, so now of nations, the competition will be 
keener upon the higher levels ; nations having ceased to 
compete with guns and tariffs will compete with feelings and 
ideas. ^ 

Whatever there is of true original power and interest in 
the Celtic, the Teutonic, the various blends of Latin and 
Slavonic races can only bear its fruit in times of peace. 

So far as nationality or race has any distinct character 
or value for itself and for the world, that value and character 
are expressed through work. Hitherto the absorption of 
so much national energy upon military, and in later times 
rude industrial occupations, has checked the higher forms 
of national self-expression ; while the permanent hostility 
of international relations has chilled the higher intercourse 
and prevented what is really great and characteristic in the 
national achievements of art, literature, and thought from 
penetrating other nations, and so by subtle educative 
processes laying the foundation of true feelings of humanity, 
based, as such feelings must be, not on vague imaginative 
sympathy, but upon common experience of life and a 
common understanding. Peaceful intercourse between 
nations is thus not merely the condition, but the powerful 
stimulus of national energy and achievement in the higher 
arts of life ; for the self-appreciation of national pride can 
never furnish so wholesome an incentive or so sound a 
criterion of human excellence as the impartial judgment 
of civilized humanity, no longer warped by baser patriotic 
prejudices, but testing what is submitted to it by the 
impartial universal stanefard of humanity. A few rare 
individual men of genius in art and literature, a few more 

1 86 


in science and in religion, have broken the barriers of 
nationality and have become fertilizing, humanizing forces 
in other nations — such men as. Jesus, Buddha, Mahomet, 
Homer, Shakespeare, Plato, Aristotle, Kant, Copernicus, 
Newton, Darwin. A larger number of great men have 
exercised some real and abiding influence upon the little 
world of science and letters which in the middle ages had 
attained an internationalism lost in - the rise of militant 
nationalism and being slowly rediscovered in our own age. 

But outside these conquests of personal genius the broad 
streams of national influence and achievement which might 
have fertilized the wide plains of the intellectual world have 
been confined within their narrow national channels. 
Nationalism as a restrictive and exclusive force, fostering 
political and industrial enmities and keeping down the 
competition of nationalities and races to the low level of 
military strife, has everywhere checked the free intercourse 
requisite for the higher kinds of competition, the struggle of 
languages, literatures, scientific theories, religious, political, 
and social institutions, and all the arts and crafts which are 
the highest and most important expressions of national as 
of individual life. 


This thought unearths the lowest root fallacy of the crude 
biological sociology, the assumption that there is one sort of 
national efficiency and that it is tested by a contest of military 
or commercial power. The only meaning that can be given 
to the social efficiency ” of a nation identifies it with the 
power it displays of adapting itself to its physical environ- 
ment and of altering that environment to help the adapta- 
tion ; the attainments in religion^ law, politics, intellectual 
life, industry, etc., are the expressions of this social efficiency, 
bearing this in mind, it is evident that for concrete purposes 


imperialism: a study 

of comparison there are many kinds of social efficiency, and 
that the notion that civilization is a single beaten track, upon 
which every nation must march, and .that social efficiency, 
or extent of civilization, can be measured by the respective 
distances the nations have gone, is a mischievous delusion. 

The true social efficiency, or civilization, of a nation 
only shows itself in its more complex achievements and 
activitlK. The biologist who understood his science would 
recognize that a true test of the efficiency of nations 
demanded that the conflict of nations should take place not 
by the more primitive forms of fight and the ruder weapons 
in which nations are lees differentiated, but by the higher 
forms of fight and the more complex intellectual and moral 
weapons which express the highest degree of national 
differentiation. This higher struggle, conducted through 
reason, is none the less a national struggle for existence, 
because in it ideas and institutions which are worsted die, 
and not human organisms. The civilization of the world 
can only proceed upon the higher planes on condition that 
this struggle of national ideals s^nd institutions is waged 
by a free field of competitors, and this struggle cannot be 
effectively maintained unless the lower military and industrial 
struggles cease. 

Biology always demands as a condition of progress the 
competition of individuals, but as reason grows in the 
nation it closes the ring and imposes laws, not to stop the 
struggle, but to make it a fairer test of a fuller form of 
individual fitness. Biology demands as a condition of 
world-progress that the struggle of nations or races continue ; 
but as the world grows more rational it will in similar fashion 
rationalize the rules of that ring, imposing a fairer test of 
forms of national fitness^ 

The notion of the world as a cock-pit of nations in which 
round after round shall eliminate feebler fighters and leave 



in the end one nation, the most efficient, to lord it on the 
dung~hill, has no scientific validity. Invoked to support 
the claims of militant nationalism, it begins by ignoring 
the very nature and purposes of national life, assuming that 
uniformity of character and environment which are the 
negation of nationalism. ^ 

The belief that with the stoppage of war, could^»"H8S 
achieved, national vigour must decay, is based on a iomplete 
failure to recognize that the lower form of struggle is 
stopped for the express purpose and with the necessary 
result that the higher struggle shall become possible. With 
the cessation of war, whatever is really vital and valuable 
in nationality does not perish ; on the contrary, it grows and 
thrives as it could not do before, when the national spirit 
out of which it grows was absorbed in baser sorts of struggle. 

Internationalism is no more opposed to the true purposes 
of nationalism than socialism within the nation, rightly 
guided, is hostile to individualism. The problem and its 
solution are the same. We socialize in order that we may 
individuate ; we cease fighting with bullets in order to fight 
with ideas. 

All the essentials of the biological struggle for life are 
retained, the incentive to individual vigour, the intensity 
of the struggle, the elimination of the unfit and the survival 
of the fittest. 

The struggle has become more rational in mode and 
purpose and result, and reason is only a higher form of 


The shortsightedness of this school of biological sociologists 
is nowhere more strikingly displs^ed than by the exclusive 
attention they pay to the simpler form of struggle, the 
direct conflict of individuals and species, to the exclusion 


imperialism: a study 

of the important part played by ** crossing ” as a means of 
progress throughout organic life. 

The law of the fertility of “ crosses ” as applied to 
civilization or “ social efficiency ’’ alike on the physical and 
psychical plane requires, as a condition of effective operation, 
internationalism. It is of course true that throughout 
xrt'.V'ry the “ crossing of national types has been largely 
achieve by means of war, conquest, and subjugation. 
But this, though subserving progress in the long run, has 
been a most wasteful, indirect, and unsafe method, the 
selection being determined by no clear view of the future 
or of any higher purpose of social efficiency. Just in 
proportion as internationalism promotes free intercourse 
between nations for higher purposes of peaceful interest, 
will blending of races by intermarriage be determined on 
grounds of affinity more fruitful of improved racial efficiency, 
and new modifications of species more numerous and 
more novel will compete with one another as factors in 
the civilization of the world, raising the character and 
intensity of the competition ancj enhancing the pace of 
human progress. / 

Nay, we may carry the biological analogy still farther, 
following the insistence of Professor Pearson regarding the 
necessity of bringing direct social pressure, of public opinion 
or of law, to prevent the fatal process of breeding from 
“ bad stock.” If the ordinary processes of physical de- 
generacy within the nation do not suffice for the elimination 
of bad stock, but must be supplemented by some direct 
prohibition of bad parentage, it might be necessary in the 
interests of humanity that similar measures should be 
enforced upon the larger scale by the mandates of organized 
humanity. As lower individuals within a society perish by 
contact with a civilization to which they cannot properly 
assimilate themselves; so lower races ” in some instances 



disappear by similar contact with higher races whose diseases 
and physical vices prove too strong for them. A rational 
stirpiculture in the wide social interest might, however, 
require a repression of the spread of degenerate or un- 
progressive races, corresponding to the check which a nation 
might place upon the propagation from bad individual stock. 
With the other moral and practical issues involved 
SL proposal we need not here concern ourselves ; ilJgarded 
exclusively from a biological standpoint, that course would 
seem to follow from the application of direct rational 
rejection of bad stock upon the smaller scale of national life. 
The importance of this consideration rests upon the fact 
that this rejection of unsound racial stock implies the 
existence of an international political organization which 
has put down war and has substituted this rational for the 
cruder national selection and rejection of races. 

Wl^lhcr. a nation or a society of nations will ever proceed 
as far as this, or, going farther, will attempt the fuller art 
of stirpiculture, encouraging useful crosses ’’ of families or 
races, may be matter of grave doubt ; but if the maintenance 
and improvement of the national stock ever warranted such 
experiments, we are entitled to insist that logic would 
justify the application of the same rule in the society of 

Again, while it is questionable how far the law of the utility 
of cross-fertilization is transferable from the world of physical 
organisms to the psychical realm in its literal bearing, the 
more general applicability cannot be disputed. That 
scientific theories, religious, social, and political arts and 
institutions gain by free, friendly, vital intercourse with 
other theories, arts and institutions, undergoing serviceable 
accretions, excretions, and modifications, is a commonplace 
of intellectual life. Whether, therefore, we regard the 
contact of ideas and feelings and the arts they animate as a 


imperialism; a study 

direct struggle for existence^ in which the worse or falser 
perish and the better and truer survive, or as a friendly 
intercourse in which each selects and assimilates something 
from the others, internationalism is as essential to the 
efficiency of these processes as nationalism itself. 

It is only when we realize the true nature of this spread 
fertilization of ideas, arts, and institutions, the riper 
fruits olkhe spirit of a nation, that we realize the legitimate 
as distinguished from the illegitimate expansion, the valid 
significance of empire. When nations compete to take one 
another’s lives or land or trade, the dominion which the 
conqueror establishes has no element of permanence ; 
another turn of the military or commercial tide wipes out 
the victory and leaves scarce a ripple in the sands. But the 
influence exerted through acts of peace is more lasting, 
more penetrating, and more glorious. Shakespeare, Byron, 
Darwin, and Stevenson have done incomparably more for 
the influence of England in the history of the world than 
all the statesmen and soldiers who have won victories or 
annexed new provinces. Macaulay has well said it, ‘‘ There 
is an empire exempt from all natural sources of decay — that 
empire is the imperishable empire of our art and our morals, 
our literature and our law.” This antagonism between 
the extensive empire and the intensive empire is not 
rhetorical, it is grounded upon biological necessities. 

The essential conditions of the lower struggle for the life 
and land and trade of others preclude the higher and more 
profitable competition of ideas by which the empire of the 
national mind is extended : it is not merely the economy 
of energy which determines that the national vigour cannot 
at the same time engage effectively in both struggles ; but, 
far more important, the ^very nature of the lower struggle 
drives each nationality to feed upon itself in insolent, 
exclusive pride, inhibiting the receptivity of other nations. 



EflFective internationalism is the only sound basis of 
competition and rational selection among nations. In the 
cruder form of the human struggle, accident, or numbers, 
or some primitive force or cunning, may secure the success 
of a people whose “ social efficiency ” is of a low order, 
impermanent and unproductive, while it stamps out or 
checks the growth of a people whose latent 
achievement and capacities - of progress are far s£l|)eriar. 
Only in proportion as racial or national selection is rationally 
guided and determined does the world gain security against 
such wastes and such calamities. An international govern- 
ment alone can furnish adequate protection to weak but 
valuable nationalities, and can check the insolent brutality 
of powerful aggressors, preserving that equality of oppo- 
tunities for national self-expression which is as essential to 
the commonwealth of nations as to the welfare of the several 

Only by raising the crude, fragmentary, informal, often 
insincere beginning of international government into a 
stronger, more coherent, and more complex authority can 
the struggle for life proceed upon the highest arena of 
competition, selecting the finest forms of social efiiciency. 

One further objection to the final efficacy of a federation 
of civilized nations demands consideration. Suppose a 
federal government of Western nations and their colonial 
offspring to be possible in such wise that internal conflicts 
were precluded, this peace of Christendom would be 
constantly imperilled by the lower races,” black and 
yellow, who, adopting the arms and military tactics now 
discarded by the “ civilized races,” would overwhelm them 
in barbarian incursions, even as the ruder European and 
Asiiuic races overwhelmed the Ronian Empire. We cilnnot 
get the whole world to the level of civilization which will 
^ admit it into the alliance ; the Powers outside will be a 


imperialism: a study 

constant menace, and if the main purpose of federation is to 
eliminate militarism from the economy of national life, the 
attainment of this purpose will render effective resistance to 
such invaders no longer possible. This has been the universal 
fate of Empires in the past ; what talisman could this latest 
federal Empire possess enabling it to escape ? To this 
^«i^;S5^:tion we may make this preliminary answer. Two 
facto^Sn the older Empires have primarily contributed to 
weaken their powers of resistance against outside bar- 
barians,^’ and to strengthen and stimulate the zeal of the 
invaders. There is first the habit of economic parasitism, 
by which the ruling State has used its provinces, colonies, 
and dependencies in order to enrich its ruling class and to 
bribe its lower classes into acquiescence. This bleeding 
of dependencies, while it enfeebles and atrophies the energy 
of the imperial people, irritates and eventually rouses to 
rebellion the more vigorous and less tractable of the subject 
races ; each repression of rebellion rankles in the blood, 
and gradually a force of gathering discontent is roused 
which turns against the governing Power. 

The second factor, related to the first, consists in that 
form of “ parasitism ” known as employment of mercenary 
forces. This is the most fatal symptom of imperial 
infatuation, whereby the oppressor at once deprives himself 
of the habit and instruments of effective self-protection and 
hands them over to the most capable and energetic of his 

This fatal conjunction of folly and vice has always 
contributed to bring about the downfall of Empires in 
the past. Will it prove fatal to a federation of Western 
States ? 

Obviously it will, if ^he strength of their combination 
is used for the same parasitic purposes, and the white races, 
discarding labour in its more arduous forms, live as a sort 



of world-aristocracy by the exploitation of lower races,” 
while they hand over the policing of the world more and 
more to members of these same races. These dangers would 
certainly arise, if a federation of European States were simply 
a variant of the older Empires, using a pax Europcea for 
similar purposes and seeking to maintain it by the same 
methods as those employed under the so-called pax Rot^ggi^i 
The issue is a great one, furnishing, in fact, the supreihe test 
of modern civilization. 

Is it possible for a federation of civilized States to maintain 
the force required to keep order in the world without abusing 
her power by political and economic parasitism ? 





A nalysis of the actual course of modern Imperialism 
^ has laid bare the combination of economic and 
political forces which fashions it. These forces are traced 
to their sources in the selfish interests of certain industrial, 
financial, and professional classes, seeking private advantages 
out of a policy of imperial expansion, and using this same 
policy to protect them in their economic, political, and 
social privileges against the pressure of democracy. It 
remains to answer the question, ** Why does Imperialism 
escape general recognition for the narrow, sordid thing 
it is ? ” Each nation, as it watches from outside the 
Imperialism of its neighbours, is not deceived ; the selfish 
interests of political and commercial classes are seen plainly 
paramount in the direction of the policy. So every other 
European nation recognizes the true outlines of British 
Imperialism and charges us with hypocrisy in feigning 
blindness. This charge is false ; no nation sees its own 
shortcomings ; the charge of hypocrisy is seldom justly 
Brought against an individual, against a nation never. 
Frenchmen and Germans believe that our zeal in promoting 
foreign missions, putting down slavery, and in spreading 
the arts of civilization is a false disguise conveniently assumed 
to cover naked nationaLself -assertion. The actual case is 
somewhat different. 

There exists in a considerable though not a large pro« 



portion of the British nation a genuine desire to spread 
Christianity among the heathen, to diminish the cruelty 
and other sufferings which they believe exist in countries 
less fortunate than their own, and to do good work about 
the world in the cause of humanity. Most of the churches 
contain a small body of men and women deeply, even 
passionately, interested in such work, and a much 
number whose sympathy, though weaker, is quite genuine. 
Ill-trained for the most part in psychology and history, 
these people believe that religion and other arts of civiliza- 
tion are portable commodities which it is our duty to convey 
to the backward nations, and that a certain amount of 
compulsion is justified in pressing their benefits upon people 
too ignorant at once to recognize them. 

Is it surprising that the selfish forces which direct 
Imperialism should utilize the protective colours of these 
disinterested movements ? Imperialist politicians, soldiers, 
or company directors, who push a forward policy by 
portraying the cruelties of the African slave raids or the 
infamous tyranny of a |^rempeh or a Theebaw, or who 
open out a new field for missionary enterprise in China or 
the Soudan, do not deliberately and consciously work up 
these motives in order to incite British public. They 
simply and instinctively attach to themselves any strong, 
genuine elevated feeling which is of service, fan it and 
feed it until it assumes fervour, and utilize it for their 
ends. The politician always, the business man not seldom, 
believes that high motives qualify the political or financial 
benefits he gets : it is certain that Lord Salisbury really 
believed that the South African war, for which his Govern- 
ment was responsible, had been undertaken for the benefit 
of the people of South Africa, and, would result in increased 
liberty and happiness ; it is quite likely that Earl Grey 
thought that the Chartered Company which he directed 


imperialism: a study 

was animated by a desire to improve the material and 
moral condition of the natives of Rhodesia, and that it was 
attaining this object. 

So Leopold, King of the Belgians, claimed for his 
government of the Congo — “ Our only programme is that 
of the moral and material regeneration of the country.” 
*^iiii^^ifficult to set any limit upon the capacity of men to 
deceive themselves as to the relative strength and worth 
of the motives which affect them : politicians, in particular, 
acquire so strong a habit of setting their projects in the 
most favourable light that they soon convince themselves 
that the finest result which they think may conceivably 
accrue from any policy is the actual motive of that policy. 
As for the public, it is only natural that it should be 
deceived. All the purer and mere elevated adjuncts of 
Imperialism are kept to the fore by religious and philan- 
thropic agencies : patriotism appeals to the general lust 
of power within a people by suggestions of nobler uses, 
adopting the forms of self-sacrifice to cover domination 
and the love of adventure. So Christianity becomes 

imperialist ” to the Archbishop of Canterbury, a “ going 
out to all the world to preach the gospel ” ; trade becomes 
“ imperialist ” in the eyes of merchants seeking a world 

It is precisely in this falsification of the real import of 
motives that the gravest vice and the most signal peril of 
Imperialism reside. When, out of a medley of mixed 
motives, the least potent is selected for public prominence 
because it is the most presentable, when issues of a policy 
which was not present at all to the minds of those who 
formed this policy are treated as chief causes, the moral 
currency of the nation is debased. The whole policy of 
Imperialism is riddled with this deception. Although no 
candid student of history will maintain for a moment that 



the entrance of British power into India, and the chief steps 
leading to the present British Empire there, were motived 
by considerations other than our own political and com- 
mercial aggrandisement, nothing is more common than to 
hear the gains which it is alleged the natives of the country 
have received from British rule assigned as the mor^ 
justification of our Indian Empire. The case of. '2gJpt 
is a still more striking one. Though the reasons openly 
assigned for the British occupation of Egypt were military 
and financial ones affecting our own interests, it is now 
commonly maintained that we went there in order to 
bestow the benefits which Egyptians have received from 
our sway, and that it would be positively wicked of us 
to keep the pledge we gave to withdraw within a short 
term of years from the country. When the ordinary 
Englishman reads how at no previous period of his 
history has the fellah lived under a Government so careful 
to promote his interests or to preserve his rights,’’^ he 
instinctively exclaims, “ Yes, that is what we went to 
Egypt for,” though, in p,oint of fact, the play of “ Imperial- 
ism ” which carried us there was determined by quite other 
considerations. Even if one supposes that the visible 
misgovernment of Egypt, in its bearing on the life of the 
inhabitants, did impart some unselfish element to our 
conduct, no one would suggest that as an operative force 
in the direction of our imperial policy such motive has ever 
determined our actions.* Not even the most flamboyant 

^ Engldnd in Egypt, p. 97. 

• How far the mystiheation of motives can carry a trained thinker upon politics 
may be illustrated by the astonishing argument of Professor Giddings, who, in 
discussing “ the consent of the governed " as a condition of government, argues 
that “ if a barbarous people is compelled to accept the authority of a state more 
advanced in civilization, the test of the rightfulncss or wr9ngfulness of this 
imposition of authority is to be found, not at^ll in any assent or resistance at the 
moment when the government begins, but only in the degree oj probability that, 
after full experience of what the government can do to raise the subject population 
to a higher plane of life, a free and rational consent will be given by those who have 


imperialism: a study 

Imperialist contends that England is a knight-errant, every- 
where in search of a quest to deliver oppressed peoples from 
oppressive governments, regardless of her own interests 
and perils. Though perhaps not so inefficient, the Russian 
tyranny was quite as oppressive and more injurious to the 
cause of civilization than the government of the Khedive, 
one proposed that we should coerce Russia, or rescue 
Finland from her clutches. The case of Armenia, again, 
attests the utter feebleness of the higher motives. Both 
the Government and the people of Great Britain were 
thoroughly convinced of the atrocious cruelties of Turkey, 
public opinion was well informed and thoroughly incensed, 
Great Britain was expressly pledged by the Cyprus Conven- 
tion to protect Armenia ; but the “ cause of humanity ’’ 
and the “ mission of civilization ” were powerless either for 
interference or for effective protest. 

Aggressive Imperialism, as our investigation has shown, 
is virtually confined to the coercion by stronger or better- 
armed nations of nations which are, or seem to be, weaker 
and incapable of effective resistance ; everywhere some 
definite economic or political gain is sought by the imperial 
aggressor. The chivalrous spirit of Imperialism leads 
neither -Great Britain nor any other Western nation to assail 
a powerful State, however tyrannous, or to assist a weak 
State reputed to be poor. 

The blending of strong interested with weak disinterested 
forces is indeed characteristic of the age. It is the homage 
which Imperialism pays to humanity. But just as the 

come to understand all that has been done*' (Empire and Democracy^ p. 265). 
Professor Giddings does not teem to recognize that the entire weight of the 
ethical validity of this curious doctrine of retrospective consent is thrown upon 
the act of judging the degree of probability that a free and rational consent will be 
f^ven^ that his doctrine furnishes ^o sort of security for a competent, unbiassed 
judgment, and that, in point of fact, it endows any nation with the right to 
seize and administer |:he territory of any other, nation on the ground of a self- 
ascribed superiority and self-imputed qualifications for the work of civilization. 



mixture known as “ philanthropy and 5 per cent.” is dis- 
trusted in the ordinary business world, so in the larger 
policy of nations the same combination is by right suspect. 
When business is harnessed with benevolence the former is 
commonly allowed to determine the direction and to set 
the pace. Doubtless it says something for the moral sensi- 
bility of a nation that a gainful course is rendered 
attractive by a tincture of disinterestedness. But the 
theory and the practice in modern history often border so 
closely on hypocrisy that we cannot feel surprise that 
unfriendly foreigners apply the term to them. What, for 
example, can we say of the following frank description 
of Imperialism by Sir George now Lord Baden-Powell ? 
“ The ultimate unit, the taxpayer — ^whether home or colonial 
— looks for two groups of results as his reward. On the 
one hand, he hopes to see Christianity and civilization pro 
tanto extended ; and, on the other, to see some compensating 
development of industry and trade. Unless he, or ‘ his 
servants the Government,’ secure either or both these 
result^, the question must be plainly asked, Has hc>^ the 
right, and is he right, toVage such wars ? 

What is the mode of equating the two groups of results ? 
how much Christianity and civilization balance how much 
industry and trade ? are curious questions which seem to 
need an answer. Is not the ultimate unit in his capacity 
of taxpayer liable to lay more stress upon the asset which 
admits of monetary measurement, and to undervalue the 
one that evades arithmetic ? 

‘‘To combine the commercial with the imaginative ” 
was the aim which Mr. Rhodes ascribed to himself as the 
key of his policy. The conjunction is commonly described 
by the word “ speculation,” a word whose meaning becomes 
more sinister when politics and private business are so 

^ Addendum to Hht Downfall <f Frempob. 



inextricably interwoven as they were in the career of Mr, 
Rhodes^ who used the legislature of Cape Colony to support 
and strengthen the diamond monopoly of De Beers, while 
from De. Beers he financed the Raid, debauched the con- 
stituencies of Cape Colony, and bought the public press, 
in order to engineer the war, which was to win him full 
^ftSgpssion of his great “ thought ’’ the North.^ 


It may safely be asserted that, wherever the com- 
mercial ’’ is combined with the imaginative ” in any 
shape or sort, the latter is exploited by the former. There 
is a brand of “ Christian Imperialist ” much commended 
in certain quarters, the “ industrial missionary,” who is 
designed to float Christianity upon an ocean of profitable 
business, inculcating theological dogmas in the intervals 
of teaching the material arts and crafts. To the sceptical 
Chinese the interest manifested by a missionary in business 
affairs would go far towards dispelling the suspicions which 
now attach to the presence in their midst of men whose 
motives they are unable to appreciate, and therefore con- 
demn as unholy.” “ Immense services might be rendered 
to our commercial interests if only the members of the 
various missions in China would co-operate with our Consuls 
in the exploitation of the country, and the introduction 
of commercial as well as of purely theological ideas to the 
Chinese intelligence.”* This revelation of the mercantile 
uses of Christianity by a British Consul leaves little to 
be desired in point of frankness. Its full significance is, 
however, only perceived when it is reinformed by the najve 
confession of Lord Hugh Cecil. “ A great many people 

' ** The North is my thought ” (Cecil Rhodes : His Political Life and Speeches^ 
p. 613.). 

* Passages from a recent report of the British Consul at Canton. 



wei'e most anxious to go with their whole hearts into 
what might be called the imperial movement of the day, 
but had, as it were, a certain uneasiness of conscience 
whether, after all, this movement was quite as unpolluted 
by earthly considerations as they would desire it to be. 
He thought that by making prominent to our own minds 
the importance of missionary work we should to some extent 
sanctify the spirit of Imperialism.”^ 

We are well aware that most British missionaries are quite 
untainted by admixture of political and commercial 
motives, and that they set about their work in a single spirit 
of self-sacrifice, eager to save the souls of the heathen, and 
not a whit concerned to push British trade or “ sanctify the 
spirit of Imperialism.” Indeed, it is quite evident that, 
just in proportion as the suspicions of worldly motives 
appear in missionary work, so the genuinely spiritual influence 
evaporates. The whole history of missionary work in China 
is one long commentary on this text. The early Catholic 
missionaries, relying on the authority of their holy lives 
and teaching, w'on not only security, but wide influence, 
both among the masses and in the governing circles, 
introducing not only Christianity, but the elements of 
Western science. Though they made no large numbers 
of converts, they constituted a powerful factor in the 
civilization of the great Eastern Empire. But the intro- 
duction in the nineteenth century of national and sectarian 
competition in missionary enterprise, each mission using 
freely the diplomatic and even the military resources of some 
European State for its defence or propagation, has inhibited 
the play of spiritual forces, generating suspicions which, 
only too well grounded, have changed the early receptiveness 
into a temper of fanatical hostility. 

^ An addreM at the annual meeting of the Society for the Propagation of the 
Goipel, May 4, 1900. 



** It must be very difficult,” writes an educated China- 
man, ** for the mandarins to dissociate the missionaries 
from the secular power, whose gunboats seem ever ready 
to appear on behalf of their respective Governments. . . . 
The Chinese have watched with much concern the sequence 
of events — first the missionary, then the Consul, and at 
last the invading army. They had scarcely forgotten the 
loss of Annam in this way when the German action in 
Shan-tung created a profound sensation amongst all classes 
of the literati.” ‘‘ We cannot wonder that the Chinese 
officials should hate the missionaries. Their Church is 
an imperium in imperio^ propagating a strange faith and 
alienating the people from that of their ancestors. The 
missionaries are not amenable to Chinese laws, and in 
some cases have acted in a high-handed manner in the 
protection of their converts. In this lies one of the secrets 
of the mysterious hatred entertained against ^ the friends 
of China * as the missionaries call themselves.”^ 

How injurious to the cause whose kingdom is not 
of this earth ” is this alliance with politics and armaments 
might appear too obvious for discussion. Yet it is quite 
evident that sincere men are prepared to support the use 
of political and military force in order to open fields for 
missionary enterprise, and that the missionary, who is by 
turns trader, soldier, and politician, seems a most desirable 
instrument of civilization. 

How close in motive and in conduct this combination really 
is may be thus illustrated from the history of the Soudan. 

“ Detachments of officers and men from every regiment, 
British and Egyptian, were conveyed across the Nile in 
the gunboats to take part in the Gordon memorial service, 
and to witness the hoisting of the British flag on the ruins 

* *rbe Chinese Crisis from Within, by Wen Ching, pp. lo, 12, 14 (Grant 



of Khartoum. . . . Surrounded by the soldiers he had 
directed with terrible and glorious' effect, the successful 
general ordered the flags to be hoisted. . . . The officers 
saluted, the men presented arms, and the band played the 
Egyptian National Anthem and our own. Then the Sirdar 
called for three cheers for Her Majesty. . . . The memorial 
service followed, and the solemn words of the English 
Prayer Book were read in that distant garden. . . . The 
bands played their dirge and Gordon’s favourite hymn, 
‘ Abide with Me ’ ; a gunboat on the river crashed out 
the salute. . . . The Highlanders played a long lament, 
and thus the ceremony was duly fulfilled. Nine thousand 
of those who would have prevented it lay dead on the 
plain of Omdurman. Other thousands were scattered 
in the wilderness, or crawled wounded to the river for 
water.” ^ While the writer of this passage omits the final 
touch, the deliberate ^hooting of wounded crawlers by 
troops under British commanders, the picture is profoundly 
suggestive, with its strange amalgam of the British flag, 
“ Abide with Me,” and the avenging of Gordon. 

Yet it is evident thaf those who ascend to the misty 
heights of Imperialism are able to unite these diverse 
jarring factors in a higher synthesis,” and while deploring, 
often in earnest, the necessity of the maxim and the gun- 
boat, find a glorious justification in the higher ends of a 
civilization promoted by such means. The Western nations 
are, according to this gospel, rapidly realizing a beneficent 
control of the earth which will, in the near future, secure 
general peace and the industrial, scientific, and moral 
supremacy of Western arts. 

Fly, happy, happy sails, and bear the Press, 

Fly, happy with the mission of the Cross, 

Knit land to land, and blowing lieavenward. 

Enrich the markets of the golden year. 

^ 7 ht River War^ by Winston Churchill, vol. ii, pp. 204-106. 


imperialism: a study 

This is the benevolent theory. Let Sir Charles Dilke’s 
estimate of our acquisitions in jtropical Africa serve for 

“ If we cannot make the most fertile of the West India 
Islands pay, how can we expect to make countries which are 
far less healthy and less fertile in the very heart of Africa, 
return a profit ? Our people have been interested in Africa 
through their traditional desire to suppress the evils of the 
slave trade, and to pay conscience money in these days for 
the sins, in connexion with slavery, of their predecessors ; 
but it is probable that we have done more harm by pro- 
moting the partition of Africa and the creation, in the name 
of liberty, of such governments as that of the Congo Free 
State than the harm which our grandfathers did to Africa 
by their participation in African slavery and the slave 


The psychical problem which confronts us in the 
advocates of the mission of Imperialism is certainly no 
case of hypocrisy, or of deliberate conscious simulation of 
false motives. It is partly the dupery of imperfectly 
realized ideas, partly a case of psychical departmentalism. 
Imperialism has been floated oma sea of vague, shifty, well- 
sounding phrases which are seldom tested by close contact 
with fact. “ It is not in size and variety alone that English 
dominion is unique. Its crowning glory is its freedom,”* 
writes Mr. Henley, doubtless believing what he says. The 
suggestion of these words is that the “ freedom ” we 
enjoy in these isles is common to our fellow-subjects 
throughout the British Empire. This suggestion is false, 
as we have seen, but phrase-mongering Imperialism does 
not recognize its falsehood. The largest and most essential 

British Empirty p. 1 14< * Imperialismy p. 7. 



facts of Imperialism, political, economic, moral, are com- 
monly unknown to the average educated ” Briton. To 
him our Empire is composed of a number of free, self- 
governing States, which are in close and growing industrial 
relations with us ; individual and racial freedom and equal 
justice prevail everywhere ; Christianity and British moral 
ideals are rapidly winning their way over the vast popula- 
tions of the lower races, which gladly recognize the superiority 
of our ideas and characters and the benefits which they 
receive from British rule. These vague, hasty notions are 
corrected by no close study of facts and figures : the only 
substance which they commonly possess is the assertion of 
some friends or relatives who are on the spot in some 
British possessions and whose individual testimony is made 
to sustain a pile of imperialist notions. How many persons, 
during the South African war, based their convictions 
regarding the ‘‘ outlander grievances ’• and the character 
and motives of the Boer Government upon the impassioned 
statement of some single dweller in Johannesburg, who 
had virtually no contact with Boers and knew nothing cf 
grievances, excepting through the Rhodesian press, which 
fashioned them ! 

To what extent Imperialism lives upon “ masked words 
it is difficult to realize unless we turn to the language 
of diplomacy, the verbal armoury of Imperialism. Para- 
mount power, effective autonomy, emissary of civilization, 
rectification of frontier, and a whole sliding scale of 

^ “ There are masked words droning and skulking about us in Europe just 
now which nobody understands, but which everybody uses and most people will 
also fight for, live for, or even die for, fancying they mean this or that or the 
other of things dear to them. There never were creatures of prey so mischievous, 
never diplomatists so cunning, never poisons so deadly, as these masked words ; 
they are the unjust stewards of all men’s idps ; whatever fancy or favourite 
instinct a man most cherishes he gives to his favourite masked word to take care 
of for him ; the word at last comes to have an infinte power over him, and you 
cannot get at him but by its ministry ” (Ruskin, Sesame and Liliesy p. 29). 


imperialism: a study 

terms from hinterland ” and sphere pf interest ” to 
effective occupation ” and annexation ” will serve as 
ready illustrations of a phraseology dqvised for purposes 
of concealment and encroachment. The Imperialist who 
sees modern history through these masks never grasps the 
“ brute ” facts, but always sees them at several removes, 
refracted, interpreted, and glozed by convenient renderings. 
Some measure of responsibility for his ignorance he retains, 
for he must often be aware that the truth is not told him 
and that he is refusing to penetrate the disguises. This 
persistent evasion of naked truth endows him sometimes with 
an almost preternatural power of self-deceit. Mr. Lecky 
writes : “ Of all forms of prestige, moral prestige is the 
most valuable, and no statesman should forget that one of 
the chief elements of British power is the moral weight that 
is behind it.”^ The vast majority of “ educated ” English- 
men genuinely believe that England’s greatest gain from 
the Boer war is an enhancement of her “ moral prestige ” ! 

An error so monstrous is only made intelligible by reference 
to another curious psychical factor. Nowhere is the 
distrust of what is termed logic ” as a guide for public 
conduct, so firmly rooted as in England : a course of 
conduct which stands out sharply “ logical ” is in itself 
suspect. The practice of party ” government has so 
commonly made “ compromises ” a necessity that we 
have come to believe that our national progress is due to 
this necessity, and that if the sharper and more rapid 
application of ideas ” had been feasible, we should, by 
following them, have been led into false paths involving 
much trouble of retracing steps, or over the brink of some 
revolutionary peril. Though sound ‘‘ compromise ” is 
no wise illogical, but is ^mply logic applied within certain 
limits of time and environment, it easily degenerates into 

^7be Map of Life. 



the opportunism of an idle policy of short-range utility. 
The complexity of modern politics in such a country as 
Great Britain, reacting on the exigencies and temptations 
of a party system, has driven the habit of “ compromise ” 
to such foolish extremes as to corrupt the political intelli- 
gence of the nation. Elsewhere the same tendency has been 
operative, but has been checked or modified by a narrow 
and more consciously definite policy on the part of a ruling 
monarch or a ruling class, by the limits of a written constitu- 
tion, and, in some of the Latin nations, by an inherent and 
widespread belief in the value of ideas as operative forces 
in politics. In England, and indeed throughout Anglo- 
Saxondom, a sort of cheery optimism has commonly usurped 
the seat of intelligent direction, a general belief in “ national 
destiny,’’ which enables us “ somehow to muddle through,” 
and advises us “ to do the best we can and not look too 
far ahead.” Now, with the disdain of history and the 
neglect of sociological laws which this implies I am not here 
so much concerned as with the injurious reaction wrought 
upon the mind of the citizen confronted with some new 
event which challenges *his judgment. Our rough-and- 
ready, hand-to-mouth, “ take-what-you-can-get ” politics 
have paralysed judgment by laming the logical faculty of 
comparison. Not being required to furnish to ourselves or 
others clear, consistent reasons for our short-range ex- 
pediencies of public conduct, we have lost all habit of mental 
consistency, or, putting it conversely, we have developed 
a curious and highly dangerous aptitude for entertaining 
incompatible and often self-contradictory ideas and motives. 

One or two extreme concrete instances will serve as 
illustrations of the damage done to the public intelligence 
by the absence of all sense of cjiear logical order in the 
conduct of affairs. At the beginning of the South African 
war the numerical insignificance of the Boers was regarded 



as an aggravation of their insolence in entering upon strife 
with the greatest Empire of the world. But the numerical 
smallness did not in the least interfere with the equally 
genuine belief and feeling that we were contending with a 
Power as large, numerically, as ourselves, which wore 
required to support the sense of triumph when we won a 
victory, or to turn the edge of shame when our tiny adversary 
inflicted a defeat upon us. The shifts of detailed mendacity 
and curious invention to which we were driven in the course 
of the war by the necessity of keeping up this double and 
contradictory belief will doubtless attract the attention of 
the psychological historian, how the numbers alternately and 
automatically expanded and contracted according as it was 
sought to impress upon the nation the necessity of voting 
large supplies of troops and money, or else to represent the 
war as “ nearly over ” and as having lapsed into a trifling 
guerilla struggle. Or take another instance. It was possible 
for informed politicians to maintain at one and the same 
time that our conduct in providing food and shelter to the 
families whose property we had destroyed in South Africa 
was an act of unprecedented generosity, and to defend 
the right to sell by public auction their farms in order to 
defray the very cost of keep which was the ground for our self- 
commendation. These two contentions could be uttered in 
the House of Commons by the same minister and accepted 
by the nation without any recognition of their inconsistency. 
Why ? Simply from a practical inhibition of the faculty 
of comparison, A line of action is pursued from the felt 
pressure of some close expediency : afterwards some 
“ reasons ” must be found for it, some justification given : 
no attempt is made before or after the action to see it 
as a whole with its causes and its consequences, and so 
there is no clear comparison of actual motives and results* 
This genius of inconsistencyt of holding conflicting ideas 



or feelings in the mind simultaneously, in watertight 
compartments, is perhaps peculiarly British. It is, I repeat, 
not hypocrisy ; a consciousness of inconsistency would spoil 
the play : it- is a condition of the success of this conduct 
that it should be unconscious. For such inconsistency has 
its uses. Much of the brutality and injustice involved in 
“ Imperialism ” would be impossible without this capacity. 
If, for example, the British mind had been sufficiently 
consistent to have kept clearly before it the fact that 400 
millions of people were contending with a body less than a 
quarter of a million, whatever view was held as to the 
necessity and justice of the war, much of its detailed 
barbarism and all the triumphant exultation on success 
would have been impossible. 

There is of course much more than this in the psychology of 
Imperialism, but there are two main factors, the habit and 
capacity of substituting vague and decorative notions, 
derived through masked words,” for hard naked facts, 
and the native or acquired genius of inconsistency. Great 
Britain would be incapable of this policy if she realized in 
clear consciousness the actual play of motives and their 
results". Most of the men who have misled her have first 
been obliged to mislead themselves. There is no enthusiasm 
in hypocrisy, and even bare-faced greed furnishes no adequate 
stimulus to a long policy. Imperialism is based upon a 
persistent misrepresentation of facts and forces, chiefly 
through a most refined process of selection, exaggeration, 
and attenuation, directed by interested cliques and persons 
so as to distort the face of history. 

The gravest peril of Imperialism lies in the state of mind 
of a nation which has become habituated to this deception 
and which has rendered itself incjipable of self-criticism. 

For this is the condition which Plato terms the lie 
in the soul ” — ^a lie which does not know itself to be a lie. 

p 2II 

imperialism: a study 

One of the marks of this diseased condition is a fatal self- 
complacency. When a nation has succumbed to it, it easily 
and instinctively rejects all criticism of other nations as 
due to envy and malice, and all domestic criticism is 
attributed to the bias of anti-patriotism. In more primitive 
nations the lusts of domination and material acquisition 
which underlie Imperialism express themselves freely and 
unconsciously : there is little self-complacency because 
there is little self-consciousness. But nations which have 
grown in self-consciousness as far as the Western European 
nations seek to stimulate and feed their instinctive lusts 
by conscious reflection. Hence the elaborate weaving of 
intellectual and moral defences, the ethics and sociology 
of empire which we have examined. 

The controlling and directing agent of the whole process, 
as we have seen, is the pressure of financial and industrial 
motives, operated for the direct, short-range, material 
interests of small, able, and well-organized gifoup^ in a 
nation. These groups secure the active co-operation of 
statesmen and of political cliques who wield the power of 

parties,” partly by associating" them directly in their 
business schemes, partly by appealing to the conservative 
instincts of members of the possessing classes, whose vested 
interest and class dominance are best preserved by diverting 
the currents of political energy from domestic on to foreign 
politics. The acquiescence, even the active and enthusiastic 
support, of the. body of a nation in a course of policy fatal 
to its own true interests is secured partly by appeals to the 
mission of civilization, but chiefly by playing upon the 
primitive instincts of the race. 

The psychology of these instincts is not easy to explore, 
but certain prime factors^ easily appear. The passion which 
a French writer describes as kilometritis,^ or milo-mania, 

^M. Novicov, La Federation de P Europe, p. 158. 



the instinct for control of land, drives back to the earliest 
times when a wide range of land was necessary for a food 
supply for men or cattle, and is linked on to the ‘‘ trek ” 
habit, which* survives more powerfully than is commonly 
supposed in civilized peoples. The nomadic ” habit 
bred of necessity survives as a chief ingredient in the 
love of travel, and merges into the spirit of adventure ” 
when it meets other equally primitive passions. This 
“ spirit of adventure,” especially in the Anglo-Saxon, 
has taken the shape of sport,” which in its stronger or 
“ more adventurous ” forms involves a direct appeal to the 
lust of slaughter and the crude struggle for life involved in 
pursuit. The animal lust of struggle, once a necessity, 
survives in the blood, and just in proportion as a nation 
or a class has a margin of energy and leisure from the 
activities of peaceful industry, it craves satisfaction through 
‘‘ sport,” in which hunting and the physical satisfaction 
of striking a blow are vital ingredients. The leisured classes 
in great Britain, having most of their energy liberated 
from the necessity of work, naturally specialize on sport,” 
the hygienic necessity of* a substitute for work helping to 
support or coalescing with the survival of a savage instinct. 
As the milder expressions of this passion are alone permissible 
in the sham or artificial encounters of domestic sports, where 
wild game disappears and human conflicts more mortal 
than football are prohibited, there is an ever stronger 
pressure to the frontiers of civilization in order that the 
thwarted spirit of adventure ” may have strong, free 
play. These ' feelings are fed by a flood of the literature 
of travel and of imaginative writing, the security and 
monotony of the ordinary civilized routine imparting an 
ever-growing fascination to the wiUer portions of the earth. 
The milder satisfactions afforded by sport to the upper 
classes in their ample leisure at home are imitated by the 



industrial masses, whose time and energy for recreation 
have been growing, and who, in their passage from rural to 
town conditions, have never abandoned the humbler sports 
of feudal country life to which from time immemorial they 
had been addicted. “ Football is a good game, but better 
than it, better than any other game, is that of man- 

The sporting and military aspects of Imperialism fortn, 
therefore, a very powerful basis of popular appeal. The 
desire to pursue and kill either big game or other men can 
only be satisfied by expansion and militarism. It may 
indeed be safely said that the reason why our army is so 
inefficient in its officers, as compared with its rank and file, 
is that at a time when serious scientific preparation and 
selection are required for an intellectual profession, most 
British officers choose the army and undertake its work 
in the spirit of sport.” While the average “ Tommy ” 
is perhaps actuated in the main by similar motives, “ science ” 
matters less in his case, and any lack of serious professional 
purpose is more largely compensated by the discipline 
imposed on him. 

But still more important than these supports of militarism 
in the army is the part played by “ war ” as a support of 
Imperialism in the non-combatant body of the nation. 
Though the active appeal of “ sport ” is still strong, even 
among townsmen, clear signs are visible of a degradation 
of this active interest of the participant into the idle 
excitement of the spectator. How far sport has thus 
degenerated may be measured by the substitution every- 
where of a specialized professionalism for a free amateur 
exercise, and by the growth of the attendant vice of betting, 
which everywhere expresses the worst form of sporting 
excitement, drawing all disinterested sympathy away 

^ Baden-Powell, Aids to Scouting^ p. 124. 



from the merits of the competition, and concentrating it 
upon the irrational element of chance in combination with 
covetousness and low cunning. The equivalent of this 
degradation of interest in sport is Jingoism in relation to the 
practice of war. Jingoism is merely the lust of the spectator, 
unpurged by any personal effort, risk, or sacrifice, gloating 
over the perils, pains, and slaughter of fellow-men whom he 
does not know, but whose destruction he desires in a blind and 
artificially stimulated passion of hatred and revenge. In 
the Jingo all is concentrated on the hazard and blind fury 
of the fray. The arduous and weary monotony of the march, 
the long periods of waiting, the hard privations, the terrible 
tedium of a prolonged campaign, play no part in his 
imagination ; the redeeming factors of war, the fine sense 
of comradeship which common personal peril educates, the 
fruits of discipline and self-restraint, the respect for the 
personality of enemies whose courage he must admit and 
whom he comes to realize as fellow- beings — all these 
moderating elements in actual war are eliminated from 
the passion of the Jingo. It is precisely for these reasons 
that some friends of peace maintain that the two most 
potent checks of militarism and of war are the obligation of 
the entire body of citizens to undergo military service and 
the experience of an invasion. 

Whether such expensive remedies are really effectual 
or necessary we are not called on to decide, but it is quite 
evident that the spectatorial lust of Jingoism is a most 
serious factor in Imperialism. The dramatic falsification 
both of war and of the whole policy of imperial expansion 
required to feed this popular passion forms no small portion 
of the art of the real organizers of imperialist exploits, 
the small groups of business men •and politicians who know 
what they want and how to get it. 

' Tricked out with the real or sham glories of military 

imperialism: a study 

heroism and the magnificent claims of empire-making, 
jingoism becomes a nucleus of a sort of patriotism which 
can be moved to any folly or to any crime. 


Where this spirit of naked dominance needs more dressing 
for the educated classes of a nation, the requisite moral 
ans intellectual decorations are woven for its use ; the 
church, the press, the schools and colleges, the political 
machine, the four chief instruments of popular education, 
are accommodated to its service. From the muscular 
Christianity of the last generation to the imperial Christianity 
of the present day is but a single step ; the temper of 
growing sacerdotalism and the doctrine of authority in 
the established churches well accord with militarism and 
political autocracy. Mr. Goldwin Smith has rightly 
observed how “ force is the natural ally of superstition, 
and superstition knows it well.”^ As for the most potent 
engine of the press, the newspaper, so far as it is not directly 
owned and operated by financiers for financial purposes 
(as is the case to a great extent in every great industrial 
and financial centre), it is always influenced and often 
dominated by the interests of the classes which control 
the advertisements upon which its living depends ; the 
independence of a paper with a circulation so large and 
firm as to command ” and to retain advertisements in 
the teeth of a policy disliked by the advertising classes is 
becoming rarer and more precarious every year, as the 
cluster of interests which form the business nucleus of 
Imperialism becomes mqre consolidated and more conscious 
in its politics. The political machine is “ an hireling,’^ 

^ Letter in Mancbtstet Guardian^ October 14, 1900. 


moral and sentimental factors 

because it is a machine, and needs constant repair and 
lubrication from the wealthy members of the* party ; the 
machinist knows from whom he takes his pay, and cayinot 
run against the will of those who are in fact the patrons 
of the party, the tightening of whose purse-strings will 
automatically stop the machine. The recent Imperialism 
both of Great Britain and America has been materially 
assisted by the lavish contributions of men like Rockefeller, 
Hanna, Rhodes, Beit to party funds for the election of 
“ imperialist ’’ representatives and for the political instruction 
of the people. 

Most serious of all is the persistent attempt to sftize the 
school system for Imperialism masquerading as patriotism. 
To capture the childhood of the country, to mechanize its 
free play into the routine of military drill, to cultivate the 
savage survivals of combativeness, to poison its early 
understanding of history by false ideals and pseudo-heroes, 
and by a consequent disparagement and neglect of the 
really vital and elevating lessons of the past, to establish 
a “ geocentric ’’ view of the moral universe in which the 
interests of humanity 'are subordinated to that of the 
“ country ” (and so, by easy, early, natural inference, that 
of the “ country ” to that of the “ self ^’), to feed the always 
overweening pride of race at an age when self-confidence 
most commonly prevails, and by necessary implication to 
disparage other nations, so starting children in the world 
with false measures of value and an unwillingness to learn 
from foreign sources — to fasten this base insularity oi 
mind and morals upon the little children of a nation and 
to call it patriotism is as foul an abuse of education as it is 
possible to conceive. Yet the power of Church and State 
over primary education is being bent consistently to this 
purpose, while the blend of clericalism and autocratic 
academicism which dominates the secondary education of 


imperialism: a study 

this country pours its enthusiasm into the same evil channel.' 
Finally, our centres of highest culture, the universities, 
are ip peril of a new perversion from the path of free inquiry 
and expression, which is the true path of intellectual life. 
A new sort of pious founder ” threatens intellectual 
liberty. Our colleges are, indeed, no longer to be the 
subservient defenders of religious orthodoxy, repressing 
science, distorting history, and moulding philosophy to 
conserve the interests of Church and King. The academic 
studies and their teachers are to employ the same methods 
but directed to a different end ; philosophy, the natural 
sciences, history, economics, sociology, are to be employed 
in setting up new earthworks against the attack of the 
disinherited masses upon the vested interests of the pluto- 
cracy. I do not of course represent this perversion as 
destructive of the educational work of the colleges : the 
services rendered in defence of “ conservatism ” may even 
be regarded in most cases as incidental : only perhaps in 
philosophy and economics is the bias a powerful and 
pervasive one, and even there the individuality of strong 
independent natures may correct it. Moreover, it is need- 
less to charge dishonesty against the teachers, who commonly 
think and teach according to the highest that is in them. 
But the actual teaching is none the less selected* and 
controlled, wherever it is found useful to employ the 
arts of selection and control, by the business interests 
playing on the vested academic interests. No one can 
follow the history of political and economic theory during 
the last century without recognizing that the selection and 
rejection of ideas, hypothesis, and forpiulae, the moulding 
of them into schook or tendencies of thought, and the 
propagation of them in tihe intellectual world, have been 
plainly directed by the pressure of class interests. lu political 

^ For itriking Ulustrationi cj, Spencer's FaeU and Comments^ pp. 126-7. 



economy, as wt might well suspect, from its close^ bearing 
upon business and politics, we find the most incontestable 
exampJe. The “ classical economics in England were 
the barely disguised formulation of the mercantile and 
manufacturing interests as distinguished from, and opposed 
to, the landowning interest on the one hand, the labouring 
interest on the other, evoking in later years other class 
economics of “ protection and of ‘‘ socialism ” similarly 
woven out of sectional interests. 

The real determinants in education ar- given in these 
three questions ; “ Who shall teach f What shall they 

teach ? How shall they teach ? ” Where universities 
are dependent for endowments and incomes upon the 
favour of the rich, upon the charity of millionaires, the 
following answers will of necessity be given : Safe teachers. 
Safe studies. Sound (i.e. orthodox) methods.” The coarse 
proverb which tells us that “ he who pays the piper calls 
the tune ” is quite as applicable here as elsewhere, and no 
bluff regarding academic dignity and intellectual honesty 
must blind us to the fact. 

The interference with ihtellectual liberty is seldom direct, 
seldom personal, though both in the United States and 
Canada some instances of the crudest heresy-hunting have 
occurred. The real danger consists in the appointment 
rather than in the dismissal of teachers, in the determination 
of what subjects shall be taught, what relative attention 
shall be given to each subject, and what text-books and 
other apparatus of instruction shall be used. The sub- 
servience to rank and money, even in our older English 
universities, has been evinced so nakedly, and the demands 
for monetary aid in developing new faculties necessarily 
looms so large in academic eye% that the danger here 
indicated is an ever-growing one. It is not so much the 
weight of the “ dead hand ” that is to be feared as that of 


imperialism: a study 

the living : a college so unfortunate as to harbour teachers 
who, in handling vital issues of politics or economics, teach 
truths deeply and obviously antagonistic to the interests of 
the classes from whom financial aid was sought, would be 
committing suicide. Higher education has never been 
economically self-supporting ; it has hardly ever been fully 
organized from public funds ; everywhere it has remained 
parasitic on the private munificence of wealthy persons. 
The peril is too obvious to need further enforcement : it 
is the hand of the prospective, the potential donor that 
fetters intellectual freedom in our colleges, and will do so 
more and more so long as the duty of organizing public 
higher education for a nation out of public funds fails of 

The area of danger is, of course, far wider than Imperialism, 
covering the whole field of vested interests. But, if the 
analysis of previous chapters is correct, Imperialism stands 
as a first defence of these interests : for the financial and 
speculative classes it means a pushing of their private 
businesses at the public expense, for the export manu- 
facturers and merchants a forcible enlargement of foreign 
markets and a related policy of Protection, for the official 
and professional classes large openings of honourable and 
lucrative employment, for the Church it represents the 
temper and practice of authority and the assertion of 
spiritual control over vast multitudes of lower people, 
for the political oligarchy it means the only effective 
diversion of the forces of democracy and the opening of 
great public careers in the showy work of empire-making. 

This being so, it is inevitable that Imperialism should 
seek intellectual support in our seats of learning, and 
should use the sinews of education for the purpose. The 
millionaire who endows Oxford does not buy its men of 
learning outright, need not even stipulate what should be 



taught. But the practical pressure of Imperialism is such 
that when a professional appointment is made in history 
it is becoming more difficult for a scholar with the intellectual 
outlook of a John Morley, a Frederick Harrison, or a Goldwin 
Smith to secure election, or for a political economist 
with strong views on the necessity of controlling capital 
to be elected to a chair in economics. No formal tests are 
necessary ; the instinct of financial self-preservation will 
suffice. The price which universities pay for preferring 
money and social position to intellectual distinction in 
the choice of chancellors and for touting among the million- 
aires for the equipment of new scientific schools is this 
subservience to the political and business interests of their 
patrons : their philosophy, their history, their economics, 
even their biology must reflect in doctrine and method 
the consideration that is due to patronage, and the fact 
that this deference is unconscious enhances the damage 
done to the cause of intellectual freedom. 

Thus do the industrial and financial forces of Imperialism, 
operating through the party, the press, the church, the 
school, mould public opinion and public policy by the false 
idealization of those primitive lusts of struggle, domination 
and acquisitiveness, which have survived throughout the 
eras of peaceful industrial order, and whose stimulation 
is needed once again for the work of imperial aggression, 
expansion, and the forceful exploitation of lower races. For 
these business politicians biology and sociology weave thin 
convenient theories of a race struggle for the subjugation of 
the inferior peoples, in order that we, the Anglo-Saxon, 
may take their lands and live upon their labours ; while 
economics buttresses the argument by representing our 
work in conquering and ruling them as our share in the 
division of labour among nations, and history devises 
reasons why the lessons of past empire do not apply to ours 



while social ethics paints the motive of Imperialism 
as the desire to bear the “ burden ” of educating and elevating 
races of “ children.” Thus arc the “ cultured ” or semi- 
cultured classes indoctrinated with the intellectual and 
moral grandeur of Imperialism. For the masses there is a 
cruder appeal to hero-worship and sensational glory, 
adventure and the sporting spirit : current history falsified 
in coarse flaring colours, for the direct stimulation of the 
combative instincts. But while various methods are 
employed, some delicate and indirect, others coarse and 
flamboyant, the operation everywhere resolves itself into 
an incitation and direction of the brute lusts of human 
domination which are everywhere latent in civilized 
humanity, for the pursuance of a policy fraught with material 
gain to a minority of co-operative vested interests which 
usurp the title of the commonwealth. 





' I 'HE statement, often made, that the work of imperial 
expansion is virtually complete is not correct. It is 
true that most of the “ backward ” races have been placed 
in some sort of dependence upon one or other of the 
“ civilized ” Powers as colony, protectorate, hinterland, or 
sphere of influence. But this in most instances marks rather 
the beginning of a process of imperialization than a definite 
attainment of empire. The intensive growth of empire 
by which interference is increased and governmental 
control tightened over spheres of influence and protectorates 
is as important and as perilous an aspect of Imperialism 
as the extensive growth Vhich takes shape in assertion of 
rule over new areas of territory and new populations. 

The famous saying, attributed to Napoleon, that ‘‘ great 
empires die of indigestion ” serves to remind us of the 
importance of the imperialist processes which still remain 
after formal “ expansion ” has been completed. During the 
last twenty years of the last century Great Britain, Germany, 
France, and Russia had bitten off huge mouthfuls of Africa 
and Asia which are not yet chewed, digested, or assimilated. 
Moreover, great areas still remain whose independence, 
though threatened, is yet unimpaired.^ 

Vast countries in Asia, such gs Persia, Thibet, Siam, 

^ The reader it reminded that thit and ensuing remarks relate to the situation 
at the beginning of the eentuty. 


imperialism: a study 

Afghanistan, are rapidly forging to the front of politics 
as likely subjects of armed controversy between European 
Powers with a view to subjugation ; the Turkish dominions 
in Asia Minor, and perhaps in Europe, await a slow, pre- 
carious process of absorption ; the paper partition of 
Central Africa teems with possibilities of conflict. The 
entrance of the United States into the imperial struggle 
throws virtually the whole of South America into the arena ; 
for it is not reasonable to expect that European nations, 
with settlements and vast economic interests in the southern 
peninsula, will readily leave all this territory to the special 
protection or ultimate absorption of the United States, when 
the latter, abandoning her old consistent isolation, has 
plunged into the struggle for empire in the Pacific. 

Beyond and above all this looms China. It is not easy 
to suppose that the lull and hesitancy of the Powers will 
last, or that the magnitude and manifest risks of disturbing 
this vast repository of incalculable forces will long deter 
adventurous groups of profit-seekers from driving their 
Governments along the slippery path of commercial treaties, 
leases, railway and mining concessions, which must entail a 
growing process of political interference. 

It is not my purpose to examine here the entanglement 
of political and economic issues which each of these cases 
presents, but simply to illustrate the assertion that the 
policy of modern Imperialism is not ended but only just 
begun, and that it is concerned almost wholly with the 
rival claims of Empires to dominate “ lower races ” in 
tropical and sub-tropical countries, or in other countries 
occupied by manifestly unassimilable races. 

In asking ourselves what are the sound principles of world 
policy and of national policy in this matter, we may at first 
ignore the important differences which should affect our 
conduct towards countries inhabited by what appear to be 



definitely low-typed unprogressive races, countries whose 
people manifest capacity of rapid progress from a present 
low condition, and countries like India and China, where 
an old civilization of a high type, widely differing from that 
of European nations, exists. 

Before seeking for differences of policy which correspond 
to these conditions, let us try to find whether there are any 
general principles of guidance in dealing with countries 
occupied by “ lower ” or unprogressive peoples. 

It is idle to consider as a general principle the attitude 
of mere laissez faire. It is not only impracticable in view 
of the actual forces which move politics, but it is ethically 
indefensible in the last resort. 

To lay down as an absolute law that “ the autonomy of 
every nation is inviolable ” does not carry us very far. 
There can no more be absolute nationalism in the society 
of nations than absblute individualism in the single nation. 
Some measure of practical internationality, implying a 
“ comity of nations,” and some relations of “ right ” and 
“ duty ” between nations, are almost universally admitted. 
The rights of self-government, implied by the doctrine of 
autonomy, if binding in any sense legal or ethical on other 
nations, can only possess this character in virtue of some 
real international organization, however rudimentary. 

It is difficult for the strongest advocate of national rights 
to assert that the people in actual occupation or political 
control over a given area of the earth are entitled to do 
what they will with their own,” entirely disregarding the 
direct and indirect consequences of their actions upon the 
rest of the world. 

It is not necessary to take extreme cases of a national 
policy which directly affects the v^elfare of a neighbouring 
State, as where a people on the upper reaches of a river 
like the Nile or the Niger might so damage or direct the 


imperialism: a study 

flow as to cause plague or famine to the lower lands belonging 
to another nation. Few, if any, would question some right 
of interference from without in such a case. Or take another 
case which falls outside the range of directly other-regarding 
actions. Suppose a famine or flood or other catastrophe 
deprives a population of the means of living on their land, 
while unutilized land lies in plenty beyond their borders 
in another country, are the rulers of the latter entitled to 
refuse an entrance or a necessary settlement ? As in the 
case of individuals, so of nations, it will be generally allowed 
that necessity knows no laws, which, rightly interpreted, 
means that the right of self-preservation transcends all other 
rights as the prime condition of their emergence and 

This carries us on an inclined plane of logic to the real 
issue as ably presented by Mr. Kidd, Professor Giddings, 
and the ‘‘ Fabian ” Imperialists. It is an expansion of this 
plea of material necessity that constitutes the first claim 
to a control of the tropics by “ civilized ’’ nations. The 
European races have grown up with a standard of material 
civilization based largely upon the consumption and use 
of foods, raw m^iterials of manufacture, and other goods 
which arc natural products of tropical countries. The 
industries and the trade which furnish these commodities 
are of vital importance to the maintenance and progress^ 
of Western civilization. The large part played in our 
import trade by such typically tropical products as sugar, 
.tea, coffee, indiarubber, rice, tobacco, indicates the depen- 
dence of such countries as Great Britain upon the tropics. 
Partly from sheer growth of population in temperate zones, 
partly from the rising standard of material life, this 
dependence of the temperate on the tropical countries must 
grow. In order to satisfy these growing needs larger and 
larger tracts of tropical country must be cultivated, the 



•cultivation must be better and more regular, and peaceful 
and effective trade relations with these countries must be 
maintained. Now the case with which human life can be 
maintained in the tropics breeds indolence and torpor of 
character. The inhabitants of these countries are not 
“ progressive people ” ; they neither develop the arts of 
industry at any satisfactory pace, nor do they evolve new 
wants or desires, the satisfaction of which might force them 
to labour. We cannot therefore rely upon the ordinary 
economic motives and methods of free exchange to supply 
the growing demand for tropical goods. The resources of 
the tropics will not be developed voluntarily by the natives 

“ If we look to the native social systems of the tropical 
East, the primitive savagery of Central Africa, to the West 
Indian Islands in the past in process of being assisted into 
the position of modern States by Great Britain, or the 
black republic of Hayti in the present, or to modern Liberia 
in the future, the lesson seems everywhere the same ; it is 
that?* there will be no development of the resources of the 
tropics under native government.’^^ 

We cannot, it is held, leave these lands barren ; it is our 
duty to sec that they are developed for the good of the 
world. White men cannot “ ccJlonize ” these lands and, 
thus settling, develop the natural resources by the labour 
of their own hands ; they can only organize and superintend 
the labour of the natives. By doing this they can educate 
the natives in the arts of industry and stimulate in them 
a desire for material and moral progress, implanting new 
“ wants ” which form in every society the roots of civilization. 

It is quite evident that there is much force in* this 
presentation of the case, not only pn material but on moral 
grounds ; nor can it be brushed aside because it is liable 

^ Kidd, The Control of the ^ropics^ p. 53 (Macmillan St Co.). 

Q 227 

imperialism: a study 

to certain obvious and gross abuses. It implies, however,* 
two kinds of interference which require justification. To 
step in and utilize natural resources which are left un- 
developed is one thing, to compel the inhabitants to develop 
them is another. The former is easily justified, involving 
the application on a wider scale of a principle whose equity, 
as well as expediency, is recognized and enforced in most 
civilized nations. The other interference whereby men 
who prefer to live on a low standard of life with little labour 
shall be forced to harder or more continuous labour, is far 
more difficult of justification. 

I have set the economic compulsion in the foreground, 
because in point of history it is the causa causans of the 
Imperialism that accompanies or follows. 

In considering the ethics and politics of this interference, 
we must not be bluffed or blinded by critics who fasten 
on the palpable dishonesty of many practices of the gospel 
of the dignity of labour and the mission of civilization.’^ 
The real issue is whether, and under what circumstances, 
it is justifiable for Western nations to use compuhory 
government for the control and ^education in the arts of 
industrial and political civilization of the inhabitants of 
tropical countries and other so-called lower races. Because 
Rhodesian mine-owners or Cuban sugar-growers stimulate 
the British or American Government to Imperialism by 
parading motives and results which do not really concern 
them, it does not follow that these motives under proper 
guidance are unsound, or that the results are undesirable. 

There is nothing unworthy, quite the contrary, in the 
notion that nations which, through a more stimulative 
environment, have advanced further in certain arts of 
industry, politics, or mo.’-als, should communicate these to 
nations, which from their circumstances were more back- 
ward, so as to aid them in developing alike* the material 



‘resources of their land and the human resources of their 
people. Nor is it clear that in this work some ^‘induce- 
ment, stimulus, or pressure (to quote a well-known phrase) 
or in a single word, “ compulsion,” is wholly illegitimate. 
Force is itself no remedy, coercion is not education, but 
it may be a prior condition to the operation of educative 
forces. Those, at any rate, who assign any place to force 
in the education or the political government of individuals 
in a nation can hardly deny that the same instrument may 
find a place in the civilization of backward by progressive 


Assuming that the arts of “ progress,” or some of them, 
are communicable, a fact which is hardly disputable, there 
can be no inherent natural right in a people to refuse that 
measure of compulsory education which shall raise it from 
childhood to manhood in the order of nationalities. The 
analogy furnished by the education of a child is prima facie 
a sound one, and is not invalidated by the dangerous abuses 
to which it is exposed in practice. 

The real issue is one of safeguards, of motives, and of 
methods. What are the* conditions under which a nation 
may help to develop the resources of another, and even 
apply some element of compulsion in doing so ? The 
question, abstract as it may sound, is quite the most 
important of all practical questions for this generation. For 
that such development will take place, and such compulsion, 
legitimate or illegitimate, be exercised, more and more 
throughout this new century in many quarters of this 
globe, is beyond the shadow of a doubt. It is the great 
practical business of the country to explore and develop, 
by every method which science can devise, the hidden 
natural and human resources of che globe. 

That the white Western nations will abandon a quest 
on which they have already gone so far is a view which does 


imperialism: a study 

not deserve consideration. That this process of development* 
may be so conducted as to yield a gain to world-civilization, 
instead of some terrible dibdcle in which revolted slave races 
may trample down their parasitic and degenerate white 
masters, should be the supreme aim of far-sighted scientific 


To those who utter the single cry of warning, ‘‘ laissez 
faire^ hands off, let these people develop their resources 
themselves with such assistance as they ask or hire, un- 
disturbed by the importunate and arrogant control of 
foreign nations,” it is a sufficient answer to point out the 
impossibility of maintaining such an attitude. 

If organized Governments of civilized Powers refused 
the task, they would let loose a horde of private adventurers, 
slavers, piratical traders, treasure hunters, concession 
mongers, who, animated by mere greed of gold or power, 
would set about the work of exploitation under no public 
control and with no regard to the future ; playing if«tVoc 
with the political, economic, and’^moral institutions of the 
peoples, instilling civilized vices and civilized diseases, 
importing spirits and firearms as the trade of readiest 
acceptance, fostering internecine strife for their own 
political and industrial purposes, and even setting up private 
despotisms sustained by organized armed forces. It is 
unnecessary to revert to the buccaneering times of the 
sixteenth century, when a new world ” was thrown open 
to the plunder of the old, and private gentlemen of Spain 
or England competed with their Governments in the most 
gigantic business of spoliation that history records. The 
story of Samoa, of Hawaii, and a score of South Sea Islands 
in quite recent years, proves that, at a time when every sea 
is a highway, it is impossible for the most remote land to 



escape the intrusion of “ civilized nations, represented 
by precisely their most reckless and debased specimens, who 
gravitate thither in order to reap the rapid fruits of licence. 
The contact with white races cannot be avoided, and it is 
more perilous and more injurious in proportion as it lacks 
governmental sanction and control. The most gigantic 
modern experiment in private adventure slowly yielded its 
full tale of horrors in the Congo Free State, while the 
handing over of large regions in Africa to the virtually 
unchecked government of Chartered Companies has exposed 
everywhere the dangers of a contact based on private 

To abandon the backward races to these perils of private 
exploitation, it is argued forcibly, is a barbarous dereliction 
of a public duty on behalf of humanity and the civilization 
of the world. Not merely does it leave the tropics to be the 
helpless prey of the offscourings of civilized nations ; it opens 
grave dangers in the future, from the political or military 
ambitions of native or imported rulers, who, playing upon 
th:Weligious fanaticism or the combative instincts of great 
hordes of semi-savages, itiay impose upon them so effective 
a military discipline as to give terrible significance to some 
black or yellow “ peril.” Complete isolation is no longer 
possible even for the remotest island ; absolute self-sufficiency 
is no more possible for a nation than for an individual : in each 
case society has the right and the need to safeguard its 
interests against an injurious assertion of individuality. 

^ Chartered Company government it not necessarily bad in its direct results. 
It is, in fact, little else than private despotism rendered more than usually 
precarious in that it has been established for the sake of dividends. A “ managing 
director ’* may be scrupulous and far-sighted, as Sir G. T. Goldie in the Niger 
Company, or unscrupulous and short-sighted, as Mr. Rhodes in the South African 
Chartered Company. The unchecked tyranny of the managing director may be 
illustrated by the evidence of the Duke of ^bercorn, tendered to the* South 
African Committee. Mr. Rhodes had received a power of attorney to do 
precisely what he liked without consultation with the Board, he simply notifying 
, what was done." 


imperialism: a study 

Again, though there is some force in the contention that* 
the backward natives could and would protect themselves 
against the encroachments of private adventurers, if they 
had the assurance that the latter could not call upon 
their Government for assistance or for vengeance, history 
does not lead us to believe that these powers of self-protection 
however adequate against forcible invasions, would suffice 
to meet the more insidious wiles by which traders, pros- 
pectors, and political adventurers insinuate their poisons 
into primitive societies like that of Samoa or Ashanti. 

So far, we have established two tentative principles. 
First, that all interference on the part of civilized white 
nations with “ lower races is not prima facie illegitimate. 
Second, that such interference cannot safely be left to private 
enterprise of individual whites. If these principles be 
admitted, it follows that civilized Governments may under- 
take the political and economic control of lower races — ^in* 
a word, that the characteristic form of modern Imperialism 
is not under all conditions illegitimate. 

What, then, are the conditions which render it legitin«fc\e ? 
They may be provisionally stated' thus : Such interference 
with the government of a lower race must be directed 
primarily to secure the safety and progress of the civilization 
of the world, and not the special interest of the interfering 
nation. Such interference must be attended by an improve- 
ment and elevation of the character of the people who are 
brought under this control. Lastly, the determination of 
the two preceding conditions must not be left to the 
arbitrary will or judgment of the interfering nation, but 
must proceed from some organized representation of 
civilized humanity. 

The first condition is deduced directly from the principle 
of social utility expanded to its widest range, so as to be 
synonymous with the good of humanity.’* Regarding 



the conduct of one nation towards another we can find no 
other standard. Whatever uncertainty or other imperfection 
appertains to such a standard, regarded as a rule for inter- 
national policy, any narrower standard is, of necessity, more 
uncertain and more imperfect. No purely legal contentions 
touching the misapplication of the term right ” to inter- 
national relations, in the absence of any form of “ sanction,” 
affects our issue. Unless we are prepared to re-affirm in 
the case of nations, as the all-sufficient guide of conduct, 
that doctrine of “ enlightened selfishness ” which has been 
almost universally abandoned in the case of individuals, 
and to insist that the unchecked self-assertion of each 
nation, following the line of its own private present interest, 
is the best guarantee of the general progress of humanity, 
we must set up, as a supreme standard of moral appeal, some 
conception of the welfare of humanity regarded as an organic 
unity. It is, however, needless to insist upon the analogy- 
between the relation of an individual to the other individuals 
of his society, and that of one society towards another in the 
coRBjaionwealth of nations. For, though cynical statesmen 
of the modern Macchi^velli school may assert the visible 
interest of their country as the supreme guide of conduct, 
they do not seriously suggest that the good of humanity is 
thus attained, but only that this wider end has no meaning 
or appeal for them. In the light of this attitude 
all discussion of general principles “ justifying ” conduct 
is out of place, for “ just ” and ‘‘ justice ” are ruled out 
ab initio. The standard here proposed would not, however, 
in point of fact, be formally rejected by any school of 
political thinkers who were invited to find a general law for 
the treatment of lower races. No one would assert in so 
many words that we had a right tp sacrifice the good pf any 
other nation, or of the world at large, to our own private 
national gain. 


imperialism: a study 

In England, certainly, Lord Rosebery’s declaration that* 
the British Empire is the greatest secular agency for good 
known to the world” would everywhere be adopted as the 
fundamental justification of empire. 

Lord Salisbury expressly endorsed the principle, asserting 
that “ the course of events, which I should prefer to 
call the acts of Providence, have called this country to 
exercise an influence over the character and progress of 
the world such as has never been exercised in any Empire 
before ” ; while the Archbishop of Canterbury propounded 
a doctrine of “ imperial Christianity ” based upon the same 
assumptions. It lAay, then, fairly be understood that 
every act of “ Imperialism ” consisting of forcible inter- 
,ference with another people can only be justified by showing 
that it contributes to “ the civilization of the world.” 

Equally, it is admitted that some special advantage 
must be conferred upon the people who are the subject of 
this interference. On highest ground of theory, the 
repression, even the extinction, of some unprogressive 
or retrogressive nation, yielding place to another 
socially efficient and more capable of utilizing for the 
general good the natural resources of the land, might seem 
permissible, if we accepted unimpaired and unimproved 
the biological struggle for existence as the sole or chief 
instrument of progress. But, if we admit that in the 
highest walks of human progress the constant tendency is 
to substitute more and more the struggle with natural and 
moral environment for the internecine struggle of living 
individuals and species, and that the efficient conduct of 
this struggle requires the suspension of the lower struggle 
and a growing solidarity of sentiment and sympathy 
throughout entire humanify, we.shall perceivfi two important 
truths. First, “ expansion,” in order to absorb for the 
more ‘‘ progressive ” races an ever larger portion of the 



•globe, IS not the “ necessity it once appeared, because 
progress will take place more and more upon the qualitative 
plane, with more intensive cultivation alike of natural 
resources and of human life. The supposed natural 
necessity for crowding out the lower races is based on a 
narrow, low, and purely quantitative analysis of human 

Secondly, in the progress of humanity, the services of 
nationality, as a means of education and of self-develop- 
ment, will be recognized as of such supreme importance 
that nothing short of direct physical necessity in self-defence 
can justify the extinction of a nation. * In a word, it will 
be recognized that “ le grand crime internationnel est de 
d^truire une nationalite.’’^ But even those who would 
not go so far in their valuation of the factor of nationality 
will agree that it is a sound practical test of conduct to 
insist that interference with the freedom of another nation 
shall justify itself by showing some separate advantage 
conferred upon the nation thus placed in an inferior 
p^c1t)n : partly, because it seems obvious that the gain 
to the general cause of civilization will chiefly be contained 
in or compassed by an improvement in the character or 
condition of the nation which is the subject of interference ; 
partly, because the maxim which recognizes the individual 
person as an end, and requires State government to justify 
itself by showing that the coercion it exercises does in 
reality enlarge the liberty of those whom it restrains, is 
applicable also to the larger society of nations. Without 
unduly pressing the analogy of individual and nation as 
organisms, it may safely be asserted that imperial inter- 
ference with a “ lower race ” must justify itself by showing 
that it is acting for the real ^ood of the subject race. Mr. 
Chamberlain is no sentimentalist, and his declaration may 

^ * M. Brunctiere, quoted Edinburgh Rn-ieta, April. 1900. 


imperialism: a study 

rank as a locus classicus upon this matter. “ Our rule over 
the territories [native] can only be justified if we can 
show that it adds to the happiness and prosperity of the 

The moral defence of Imperialism is generally based upon 
the assertion that in point of fact these two conditions 
are fulfilled, viz. that the political and economic control 
forcibly assumed by “ higher ” over “ lower races ” does 
promote at once the civilization of the world and the 
special good of the subject races. The real answer, upon 
which British Imperialists rely in defending expansion, 
is to point to actual services rendered to India, Eygpt, 
Uganda, etc., and to aver that other dependencies where 
British government is less successful would have fared worse 
if left either to themselves or to another European Power. 

Before considering the practical validity of this position, 
and the special facts that determine and qualify the work 
of civilizing ” other races, it is right to point out the 
fundamental flaw in this theory of “ Imperialism,” viz. 
the non-fulfilment of the third condition laid down «li^re. 
Can we safely trust to the honour, the public spirit, and 
the insight of any of the competing imperial races the 
subordination of its private interests and ends to the wider 
interests of humanity or the particular good of each subject 
race brought within its sway ? 

No one, as we point out, contends that so perfect a 
natural harmony exists that every nation, consciously 
following its own chief interest, is ‘‘ led ” as “ by an 
invisible hand ” to a course of conduct which necessarily 
subserves the common interest, and in particular the 
interest of the subject race. What security, then, can 
possibly exist for the practices of a sound Imperialism 
fulfilling the conditions laid down ? Does any one contend 
that the special self-interest of the expanding and annexing 



•nation is not a chief, or indeed the chief conscious deter- 
minant in each step of practical Imperialism ? Prima facie 
it would seem reasonable to suppose that many cases would 
occur in which the special temporary interests of the 
expanding nation would collide with those of the world- 
civilization, and that the former would be preferred. It 
is surely unreasonable to take as proof of the fulfilment of 
the conditions of sane Imperialism the untested and 
unverified ipse dixit of an interested party. 


While it is generally agreed that the progress of world- 
civilization is the only valid moral ground for political 
interference with “ lower races,” and that the only valid 
evidence of such progress is found in the political, industrial, 
and moral education of the race that is subjected to this 
interference, the true conditions for the exercise of such 
a ‘‘ trust ” are entirely lacking. 

«»The actual situation is, indeed, replete with absurdity. 
Each imperialist nation daims to determine for itself what 
are the lower races it will take under its separate protection, 
or agrees with two or three neighbours to partition some 
huge African tract into separate spheres of influence ; the 
kind of civilization that is imposed is never based on any 
sober endeavour to understand the active or latent pro- 
gressive forces of the subject race, and to develop and 
direct them, but is imported from Europe in the shape of 
sets arts of industry, definite political institutions, fixed 
religious dogmas, which are engrafted on alien institutions. 
Ih political government progress is everywhere avowedly 
sacrificed to order, and both alij^e are subservient to. the 
quick development of certain profitable trading industries, 
or to the mere lust of territorial aggrandisement. The 


imperialism: a study 

recurrent quarrels of the armed white nations, each insisting 
on his claim to take up the white man^s burden in some 
fresh quarter of the globe ; the trading companies seeking 
to oust each other from a new market, the very missionaries 
competing by sects and nationalities for “ mission fields,’^ 
and using political intrigue and armed force to back their 
special claims, present a curious commentary upon the 
“ trust for civilization ” theory.^ 

It is quite evident that this self-assertive sway lacks the 
first essentials of a trust, viz. security that the “ trustee ” 
represents fairly all the interested parties, and is responsible 
to some judicial body for the faithful fulfilment of the 
terms of the trust. Otherwise what safeguard exists against 
the abuse of the powers of the trustee ? The notorious 
fact that half the friction between European nations arises 
from conflicting claims to undertake the office of ‘‘ trustee 
for civilization over lower races and their possessions 
augurs ill alike for the sincerity of the profession and the 
moral capacity to fulfil it. It is surely no mark of cynicism 
to question closely this extreme anxiety to bear one anCfrtlKl’s 
burdens among the nations. 

This claim to justify aggression, annexation, and forcible 
government by talk of duty, trust, or mission can only be 
made good by proving that the claimant is accredited by 
a body genuinely representative of civilization, to which it 
acknowledges a real responsibility, and that it is in fact 
capable of executing such a trust. 

^ From TbeJimes^ February 24, 1902 — 

“ Hong'Kong, February 22. 

“ The German missionaries who escaped after the mission house at Frayuen 
was destroyed by Chinese have returned. It is reported from Canton that the' 
French bishop intends to protect the natives who destroyed the Berlin mission 
station. The first information showed that hostility existed on the part of the 
Catholics towards the native Protestants, but it is believed that the aggressors 
assumed Catholicism as a subterfuge. If the bishop defends them, the situation 
of the missions in Kwang-tung will ^become complicated." 



• In a word, until some genuine international council exists, 
which shall accredit a civilized nation with the duty of 
educating a lower race, the claim of a “ trust is nothing 
else than an. impudent act of self-assertion. One may 
well be sceptical about the early feasibility of any such 
representative council ; but until it exists it would be far 
more honest for “ expanding ” nations to avow commercial 
necessity or political ambition as the real determinant of 
their protection of lower races than to feign a “ trust ” 
which has no reality. Even were international relations 
more advanced, and the movement begun at the Hague 
Conference solidified in a permanent authoritative body, 
representative of all the Powers, to which might be referred 
not only the quarrels between nations, but the entire 
partition of this ‘‘ civilizing ” work, the issue would still 
remain precarious. There would still be grave danger lest 
the Powers,” arrogating to themselves an exclusive 
possession of “ civilization,” might condemn to unwhole- 
some and unjust subjection some people causing temporary 
tfCubte to the world by slow growth, turbulence or obnoxious 
institutions, for which liberty might be the most essential 
condition of progress. Apart from such genuine mis- 
apprehensions, there would exist the peril of the establishr 
ment of a self-chosen oligarchy among the nations which, 
under the cloak of the civilizing process, might learn to 
live parasitically upon the lower races, imposing upon them 
‘‘ for their own good ” all the harder or more servile work 
of industry, and arrogating to themselves the honours and 
emoluments of government and supervision. 

Clear analysis of present^ tendencies points indeed to 
some such collusion of the dominant nations as the largest 
and gravest peril of the early future. The series of treaties 
and conventions between the chief European Powers, 

^ * Relates to the period in which this book was written, 1903. 


imperialism: a study 

beginning with the Berlin African Conference of 1885, 
which fixed a standard for the amicable division ” of 
West African territory, and the similar treaty in 1890, 
fixing boundaries for English, German and Italian encroach- 
ments in East Africa, doubtless mark a genuine advance 
in the relations of the European Powers, but the objects 
and methods they embody throw a strange light upon the 
trust theory. If to the care of Africa we add that of China, 
where the European Powers took common action in “ the 
interests of civilization,” the future becomes still more 
menacing. While ^the protection of Europeans was the 
object in the foreground, and imposed a brief genuine 
community of policy upon the diverse nations, no sooner 
was the immediate object won than the deeper and divergent 
motives of the nations became manifest. The entire 
history of European relations with China in modern times 
is little else than one long cynical commentary upon the 
theory that we are engaged in the civilization of the Far 
East. Piratical expeditions to force trade upon a nation 
whose one principle of foreign policy was to keep cl?ar‘uf 
foreigners, culminating in a war 'tO compel the reception 
of Indian opium ; abuse of the generous hospitality given 
for centuries to peaceful missionaries by wanton insults 
offered to the religious and political institutions of the 
country, the forcible exaction of commercial and political 
‘‘concessions ” as punishment for spasmodic acts of reprisal, 
the cold-blooded barter of murdered missionaries for the 
opening of new treaty ports, territory at Kiao Chow, or a 
new reach of the Yang-Tse for British trading vessels ; the 
mixture of menace, cajolery, and bribery by which England, 
Russia, Germany, France, and Japan laboured to gain some 
special and separate railway or mining concessions, upon 
terms excluding or damaging the interest of the others ; 
the definite assumption by Christian bishops and missionaries 



of political authority, and the arrogant and extensive use 
of the 8&-called right of ** extra-territoriality,” whereby 
they claim, not only for themselves but for their alleged 
converts and prpteg&, immunity from the laws of the land — 
all these things sufficiently expose the hollowness in actual 
history of the claims that considerations of a trust for 
civilization animate and regulate the foreign policy of 
Christendom, or of its component nations. What actually 
confronts us everywhere in modern history is selfish, 
materialistic, short-sighted, national competition, varied by 
occasional collusion. When any common international 
policy is adopted for d^'nling with lower races it has partaken 
of the nature, not of a moral trust, but of a business “ deal.” 

It seems quite likely that this policy of “ deals ” may 
become as frequent and as systematic in the world of 
politics as in the world of commerce, and that treaties and 
alliances having regard to the political government and 
industrial exploitation of countries occupied by lower races 
may constitute a rude sort of effective internationalism in 
the earfy future. 

Now, such political 4irrangements fall short in two 
important respects of that genuine trust for civilization which 
alone could give moral validity to a “ civilized ” control 
of lower peoples. In the first place, its assignment of a 
sphere of interest or a protectorate to England, to Germany, 
or Russia, is chiefly determined by some particular separate 
interest of that country by reason of contiguity or other 
private convenience, and not by any impartial considera- 
tion of its special competence for the work of civilization. 
If, for example, European Powers were really animated 
by the desire to extend Western civilization to China for 
her own good and that of the ivorld, they might more 
favourably essay this task by promoting the influence of 
Japan than by inserting their own alien occidentalism. 


imperialism: a study 

But no one proposes to delegate to Japan this “ trust 5 
every nation thinks of its own present commercial interests 
and political prestige. 

Secondly, the civilization of the lower races, even 
according to accepted Western lights, is nowhere adopted 
as the real aim of government. Even where good political 
order is established and maintained, as in Egypt of India, its 
primary avowed end, and its universally accepted standard 
of success, are the immediate economic benefits attributed 
thereto. The political government of the country is 
primarily directed everywhere to the rapid, secure, effective 
development of the national resources, and their profitable 
exploitation by native labour under white management. 
It is maintained and believed that this course is beneficial 
to the natives, as well ss to the commerce of the controlling 
power and of the world at large. That Indians or Egyptians 
are better off to-day than they were before our autocratic 
sway, not merely in economic resources but in substantial 
justice, may be quite true ; it may even be accredited to 
us that many of our governors and officials have diaplay.^d 
some disinterested concern for the immediate well-being 
of the races committed (by ourselves) to our trust. But it 
can nowhere be sincerely contended that either we or any 
other Christian nation are governing these lower -races upon 
the same enlightened principles which wc profess and some- 
times practise in governing ourselves. I allude here not to 
methods of government, but to ends. In the more en- 
lightened European States and their genuine colonies, though 
present economic considerations bulk largely enough, they do 
not absorb the present and the future of public policy; 
provision is made for some play of non-economic forces, for 
the genuine culture of h ^man life and character, for progress 
alike in individual growth .nd in the social growth which 
comes by free processes of self-government. These are 



regarded as essential conditions of the healthy growth of a 
nation. They are not less essential in the case of lower 
nations, and their exercise demands more thought and more 
experiment. • The chief indictment of Imperialism in relation 
to the lower races consists in this, that it does not even 
pretend \o apply to them the principles of education and of 
progress it applies at hotne. 


If we or any other nation really undertook the care and 
education of a “ lower race ” as a trust, how should we set 
about the execution of the trust ? By studying the religions, 
political and other social institutions and habits of the 
people, and by endeavouring to penetrate into their present 
mind and capacities of adaptation, by learning their language 
and their history, we should seek to place them in the natural 
history of man ; by similar close attention to the country 
in which they live, and not to its agricultural and mining 
r^SSoufdes alone, we should get a real grip upon their 
environment. Then, carefully approaching them so as to 
gain what confidence we could for friendly motives, and 
openly discouraging any premature private attempts of 
exploiting companies to work mines, or secure concessions, 
or otherwise to impair our disinterested conduct, we should 
endeavour to assume the position of advisers. Even if it 
were necessary to enforce some degree of authority, we 
should keep such force in the background as a last resort, 
and make it our first aim to understand and to promote the 
healthy free operations of all internal forces fo¥ progress 
which we might discover. 

Natural growth in self-government and industry along 
tropicaMines would be the end to which the enlightened 
^policy of civilized assistance would address itself, 

K 243 

imperialism: a study 

Now, what are the facts ? Nowhere has any serious' 
organized attempt been made, even by Great Britain, by 
far the largest of the trustees, to bring this scientific dis- 
interested spirit of inquiry to bear upon the races whose 
destiny she dominates.^ The publications of the Aborigines 
Protection Society, and the report of the Native Races 
Committee, dealing with South Africa, indicate the vast 
range of unexplored knowledge, and the feeble fumblings 
which have hitherto taken the place of ordered investiga- 
tions.* It is natural that this should be so. White pioneers 
in these countries^ are seldom qualified to do the work 
required ; the bias of the trader, the soldier, or the pro- 
fessional traveller, is fatal to sober, disinterested study of 
human life, while the missionary, who has contributed more 
than the rest, has seldom been endowed with a requisite 
amount of the scientific spirit or the scientific training. 

Even the knowledge which we do possess is seldom utilized 
for light and leading in our actual government of native 
races. There have indeed been signs of an awakening 
intelligence in certain spots of our Empire ; admini^TratiJis 
like Sir George Grey, Lord Riponj and Sir Marshall Clarke 
brought sympathy and knowledge to the establishment of 
careful experiments in self-government. The forms of 
protectorate exercised over Basutoland and Khama’s 
Country in South Africa, the restoration of the province of 
Mysore to native government, and the more careful 
abstention from interference with the internal policy of 
feudatory States in India, were favourable signs of a more 
enlightened policy. 

In particular, the trend of liberal sentiment regarding 

^ The formation of an African Society, in memory of Miss Mary Kingsley 
for the study of the races of that«continent, was a move in the right direction. 

* No slight is here intended upon the excellent work of the Society and the 
Committee here named. They have handled well and accurately their material. 
It is the work of original research that is so lacking. 



government of lower races was undergoing a marked change. 
The notion that there exists one sound, just, rational system 
of government, suitable for all sorts and conditions of men, 
embodied in the elective representative institutions of Great 
Britain, and that our duty was to impose this system as 
soon as possible, and with the least possible modifications, 
upon lower races, without any regard to their past history 
and their present capabilities and sentiments, was tending to 
disappear in this country, though the new headstrong 
Imperialism of America was still exposed to the taunt that 

Americans think the United States has. a mission to carry 
^ canned ’ civilization to the heathen.” The recognition 
that there may be many paths to civilization, that strong 
racial and environmental differences preclude a hasty 
grafting of alien institutions, regardless of continuity and 
selection of existing agencies and forms — these genuinely 
scientific and humane considerations are beginning to take 
shape in a demand that native races within our Empire 
shall have larger liberty of self-development assured to them, 
and that the imperial Government shall confine its inter- 
ference to protection ag&inst enemies from without, and 
preservation of the elements of good order within. 

The true “ imperial ” policy is best illustrated in the case 
of Basutoland, which was rescued in 1884 from the aggressive 
designs of Cape Colony, stimulated by industrial exploiters. 

Here British imperial government was exercised by a 
Commissioner, with several British magistrates to deal 
with grave offences against order, and a small body of native 
police, under British officers. For the rest, the old political 
and economic institutions are preserved — government by 
chiefs, under a paramount chief, subject to the informal 
control or influence of public opinidh in a national assembly ; 
ordinary administration, chiefly consisting in allotment of 
fend, and ordinary jurisdiction are left to the chiefs. 


imperialism: a study 

“ As far back as 1855 Moshesh forbade the * smelling-out ' 
of witches, and now the British authorities have suppressed 
the more noxious or offensive kinds of ceremonies practised 
by the Kaffirs. Otherwise, they interfere. as little as possible 
with native ways, trusting to time, peace, and the mission- 
aries to secure the gradual civilization of the people.” 
‘‘ No Europeans are allowed to hold land, and a licence is 
needed even for the keeping of a store. Neither are any 
mines worked. European prospectors are not permitted 
to come in and search for minerals, for the policy of the 
authorities has be^n to keep the country for the natives, 
and nothing alarms the chiefs so much as the occasional 
appearance of these speculative gentry, who, if admitted, 
would soon dispossess them.”^ 

These sentences serve to point the path by which most 
of our Imperialism has diverged from the ideal of a “ trust 
for civilization.” 

The widest and ultimately the most important of the 
struggles in South Africa is that between the policy of 
Basutoland and that of Johannesburg and Rhodesia ; for 
there, if anywhere, we lay our ‘finger on the difference 
between a “ sane ” Imperialism, devoted to the protection, 
education, and self-development of a ‘‘ lower-race,” and an 
“ insane ” Imperialism, which hands over these races to the 
economic exploitation of white colonists who will use them 
as live tools ” and their lands as repositories of mining 
or other profitable treasure. 


It is impossible to ignore the fact that this “ saner ” 
Imperialism has been vilSated in its historic origins in almost 
every quarter of the globe. Early Imperialism had two 

* Mr. Bryce, Impressions of South Africa^ p. 422. 



main motives, the lust of “ treasure ” arid the slave trade. 

Gold and silver, diamonds, rubies, pearls, and other 
jewels, the most condensed forms of portable and durable 
wealth by which men in a single hazardous adventure, by 
fortune, fraud, or force, might suddenly enrich themselves 
— these from the ancient days of Tyre and Carthage have 
directed the main current alike of private and national 
exploration, and have laid the foundation of white dominion 
over the coloured races. From Ophir, Golconda, and the 
Orinoco to Ashanti, Kimberley, Klondike, the Transvaal 
and Mashonaland it is the same story : to the more precious 
metals, tin and copper were early added as motives of nearer 
and less hazardous trading ventures, and the machine 
economy of recent generations has lifted coal and iron 
deposits to the rank of treasures worth capture and exploita- 
tion by civilized nations. But gold still holds its own as 
the dramatic centre of gravitation for Imperialism. 

But along with these motives, and of even wider operation, 
has been the desire to obtain supplies of slave or serf 
labouiw The earliest, the most widely prevalent, and the 
most profitable trade in* the history of the world has been 
the slave trade. Early forms of imperial expansion were 
directed less to any permanent occupation and government 
of foreign countries than to the capture of large supplies of 
slave labour to be transmitted to the conquering country. 
The early Imperialism of the Greek States and of Rome was 
largely governed by this same motive. Greeks and Romans 
did not often effect large permanent settlements among 
the barbarians they conquered, but, contenting themselves 
with keeping such military and magisterial control as 
sufficed to secure order and the payment of tribute, drafted 
large numbers of slaves into theyir countries in order to 
utilize their labour. The Greek cities were mostly mari- 
time, commercial, and industrial, and the slaves they drew 


imperialism: a study 

from Eastern trade or from the Scythian and Thracian 

hinterlands ” they employed upon their ships and docks, 
in their mines, and as artisans and labourers in their towns : 
Rome, the capital of an agricultural State, used her slaves 
on a “ plantation system,” ousting by this cheap forced 
labour the peasantry, who, driven into Rome, were subsisted 
chiefly upon public charity, defrayed out of the tribute of 
their foreign conquests,^ 

Now modern Imperialism in its bearing on the “ lower 
races ” remains essentially of the same type : it employs 
other methods, other and humaner motives temper the 
dominance of economic greed, but analysis exposes the 
same character at bottom. Wherever white men of 
** superior races ” have found able-bodied savages or lower 
races in possession of lands containing rich mineral or 
agricultural resources, they have, whenever strong enough, 
compelled the lower race to work for their benefit, either 
organizing their labour on their own land, or inducing 
them to work for an unequal barter, or else conveying them 
as slaves or servants to another country where theirdabour- 
power could be more profitably utilized. The use of 
imperial force to compel “ lower races ” to engage in trade 
is commonly a first stage of Imperialism ; China is here 
the classic instance of modern times, exhibiting the sliding 
scale by which sporadic trade passes through “ treaties,” 
treaty ports, customs control, rights of inland trading, 
mining and railway concession, towards annexation and 
general exploitation of human and natural resources. 

The slave trade or forcible capture and conveyance of 
natives from their own to a foreign land has in its naked 
form nearly disappeared from the practice of Western 
nations (save in the casQ of Belgium in the Congo), as also 

^ C/, Mr. Gilbeh Murray in Liberalism and the Empire^ pp. 126-129 (Brimley 



'the working of conquered people as slaves in their own 

The entire economic basis of the industrial exploitation 
of inferior races has shifted with modern conditions of life 
and industry. The change is a twofold one : the legal 
status of slave has given place to that of wage-labourer, and 
the most profitable use of the hired labour of inferior races 
is to employ them in developing the resources of their own 
lands under white control for white men’s profit. 

“ In ancient times the employer would not, if he could, 
go away from his own country to employ Libyans or 
Scythians in their native places. If he feft home, it was not 
so easy to come back. He was practically in exile. In the 
second place, he was not sufficiently master of his slaves in 
their own country. If they were all of one nation and all 
at home, they might rebel or break loose. If a strong 
Government prevented that, it was at any rate much easier 
for individual slaves to escape — a consideration always of 
the utmost importance. In modern times, the increasing 
case of communication has enabled white men to go abroad 
to all parts of the earth without suffering much real exile 
and without losing the prospect of returning home at will. 
Our Governments, judged by ancient standards, are 
miraculously strong ; our superior weapons make rebellions 
almost impossible. Consequently we do not attempt to 
iniport blacks, coolies, and Polynesians into Great Britain. 
The opposition of the working classes at home would be 

^ In the British Protectorate of Zanzibar and Pemba, however, slavery still 
(1902) exists (notwithstanding the Sultanas decree of emancipation in 1897) and 
British courts of justice recognize the status. Miss Emily Hutchinson, who was 
associated with the Friends* Industrial Mission at Pemba, said it was five years 
since the legal status of slavery was abolished in Zanzibar and Pemba. Every 
one, including those who were most anxious|that the liberation should' proceed 
slowly, was dissatisfied with the present state of affairs. Out of an estimated 
population of 25,000 slaves in Pemba less than 5,000 had been liberated so far 
under the decree (Anti-Slavery Society Annual Meeting, April 4, 1902). 


imperialism: a STtJDY 

furious ; and, even if that obstacle were overcome, thcr 
coloured men would die too fast in our climate. The whole 
economic conditions are in favour of working the coloured 
man in his own home.”^ 

This conclusion, however, requires some considerable 
qualification in the case of European colonies. Though 

imperial ” nations do not introduce the subject races into 
their home labour-markets, they induce an ever-growing 
stream of labour to flow between different parts of the 
subject portions of this Empire. The practice of indentured 
immigration is largely in vogue. The British Colony of 
Queensland and the French New Caledonia have been fed 
with labour from Polynesia ; the trade and agriculture of 
Natal has been largely absorbed by Indian “ coolie ” 
labour ; Chinese labour, free or indentured, has found its 
way into the Straits Settlements, Burma, Borneo, New 
Guinea, and parts of Australia, America, Oceania, and 
tropical Africa, a startling illustration of the movement being 
afforded by the Chinese indentured labour system adopted 
for the working of the Transvaal mines. Still, it is true 
that the general modern tendency's to work the coloured 
mjin in his own home, or in some neighbouring country to 
whose climatic and other natural characters he can easily 
adapt himself. 

The chief economic condition which favours this course 
is not, however, the greater willingness of modern white 
men to sojourn for a while abroad, but the ever-growing 
demand for tropical goods, and the abundant overflow of 
capital from modern industrial States, seeking an invest- 
ment everywhere in the world where cheap labour can be 
employed upon rich natural resources. 

The ancients carried qff the lower races to their own 
country, because they could use their labour but had little 

^ Murray, Liberalism and the Empire j p. 141. 



\ise for their land ; we moderns wish the lower races to 
exploit their own lands for our benefit. The tastes for 
tropical agricultural products, such as rice, tea, sugar, coffee, 
rubber, etc.,. first aroused by trade, have grown so fast and 
strong that we require larger and more reliable supplies than 
trade with ill-disciplined races can afford us ; we must needs 
organize the industry by Western science and Western 
capital, and develop new supplies. So likewise with the 
vast mineral resources of lands belonging to lower races ; 
Western capital and Western exploiting energy demand 
the right to prospect and develop them. The real history 
of Imperialism as distinguished from Colonization clearly 
illustrates this tendency. Our first organized contact with 
the lower races was by means of trading companies, to 
which some powers of settlement and rights of government 
were accorded by charter as incidental to the main purpose, 
viz., that of conducting trade with native inhabitants. 
Such small settlement as took place at first was for trade and 
not for political expansion or genuine colonization of a 
new cmintry. This was the case even in America with the 
London and Plymouth (Donipanies, the Massachusetts Bay 
Company'^ and the Hudson’s Bay Company, though other 
colonizing motives soon emerged ; our first entrance into 
the West Indies was by a trading settlement of the London 
Company in Barbados ; the foundation of our great Eastern 
Empire was laid in the trading operations of the East India 
Company, while the Gold Coast was first touched by the 
Royal Africa Company in 1692. Holland and France were 
moved by the same purpose, and the tropical or sub-tropical 
settlements which later passed from their hands into ours 
were mostly dominated by commercialism and a government 
based avowedly on commercial exploitation.^ 

As we approach more recent times, investment of capital 

^ Cf, Morrif, The History of Colonisation^ vol. ii, p. 60, etc, 

* 5 ' 

imperialism: a study 

and organization of native labour on the land, the plantation 
system, play a more prominent part in the policy of new 
companies, and the British North Borneo Company, the 
Sierra Leone Company, the Royal Niger Company, the 
East Africa Company, the British South Africa Company, 
are no longer chiefly trading bodies, but are devoted more 
and more to the control and development of agricultural 
and mining resources by native labour under white manage- 
ment to supply Western markets. In most parts of the 
world a purely or distinctively commercial motive and 
conduct have furnished the nucleus out of which Imperialism 
has grown, the early trading settlement becoming an 
industrial settlement, with land and mineral concessions 
growing round it, an industrial settlement involving force, 
for protection, for securing further concessions, and for 
checking or punishing infringements of agreement or 
breaches of order ; other interests, political and religious, 
enter in more largely, the original commercial settlement 
assumes a stronger political and military character, the reins 
of government are commonly taken over by the Staite from 
the Company and a vaguely defined protectorate passes 
gradually into the form of a colony. Sierra Leone, Uganda, 
and, at no distant date, Rhodesia, will serve for recent 
instances of this evolution. 


The actual history of Western relations with lower 
races occupying lands on which we have settled throws, 
then, a curious light upon the theory of a “ trust for civiliza- 
tion.” When the settlement approaches the condition 
of genuine colonizatioR, it has commonly implied the 
extermination of the lower races, either by war or by 
private slaughter, as in the case of Australian Bushmen, 



African Bushmen and Hottentots, Red Indians, and Maoris, 
or by forcing upon them the habits of a civilization equally 
destructive to them,^ This is what is meant. by saying 
that ‘‘ lower- races ” in contact with “ superior races ” 
naturally tend to disappear. How much of “ nature ” 
or “ necessity ” belongs to the process is seen from the 
fact that only those “ lower races ” tend to disappear who 
are incapable of profitable exploitation by the superior 
white settlers, either because they are too “ savage ” for 
effective industrialism or because the demand for labour 
does not require their presence. 

Whenever superior races settle on * lands where lower 
races can be profitably used for manual labour in agriculture, 
mining, and domestic work, the latter do not tend to 
die out, but to form a servile class. This is the case, not 
only in tropical countries where white men cannot form 
real colonies, working and rearing families with safety 
and efficiency, and where hard manual work, if done at 
all, must be done by ‘‘ coloured men,’’ but even in countries 
^herc»white men can settle, as in parts of South Africa and 
of the southern portiomof the United States. 

As we entered these countries for trade, so we stay 
there for industrial exploitation, directing to our own 
profitable purposes the compulsory labour of the lower 
races. This is the root fact of Imperialism so far as it 
relates to the control of inferior races ; when the latter 
are not killed out they are subjected by force to the ends 
of their white superiors. 

With the abolition of the legal form of slavery the 

, ^ Mr. Bryce (Romanes Lecture, 1902, p. 32) says; “I was told in Hawaii 
that the reduction of the native population, from about 300,000 in Captain 
Cook’s time to about 30,000 in 1S83, was largely due to the substitution of>wooden 
houses for the old wigwams, whose sides, woven of long grass, had secured natural 
ventilation, and to the use of clothes, which the natives, accustomed to nothing 
more than a loin cloth, did not think of changing or drying when drenched with 


imperialism: a study 

economic substance has not disappeared* It is no general* 
question of how far the character of slavery adheres in 
all wage labour that I am pressing, but a statement that 
Imperialism rests upon and exists for the sake of “ forced 
labour,’* i.e. labour which natives would not undertake 
save under direct or indirect personal compulsion issuing 
from white masters. 

There arc many methods of “ forcing ” labour. 

Wherever the question of industrial development of 
tropical or sub-tropical lands for agricultural or mining 
purposes comes up, the same difficulty confronts the 
white masters. The Report of the Select Committee of 
the House of Commons in 1842 on the state of the West 
Indies, subsequent to the emancipation of slaves, states 
the problem most succinctly : “ The labourers are enabled 
to live in comfort and to acquire wealth without, for the 
most part, labouring on the estates of the planters for 
more than three or four days in a week, and from five to 
seven hours in a day, so that they have no sufficient stimulus 
to perform an adequate amount of work.” The<»reasoa 
of this inadequate amount of work (how many white men 
in the West Indies put in a five to seven hours’ working- 
day ?) is that they can get high w^ages, and this is attributed 
“ to the easy terms upon which the use of land has been 
obtainable by negroes.” In a word, the Committee con- 
sidered “ that the cheapness of land has been the main 
cause of the difficulties which have been experienced, and 
that this cheapness is the natural result of the excess of 
fertile land beyond the wants of the existing population.” 

The negro would only put in a five to seven hours’ day 
at high pay because he had the option of earning his liveli- 
hood on fertile land of his^own. The same trouble confronts 
the white master everywhere where the lower races are in 
possession of agricultural land sufficient for their low 



and unprogressive standard of comfort ; they either will 
not work at all for wages, or will not work long enough or 
for low enough pay. 

“ The question, in a few words,” writes Professor Ireland, 
“ is this — What possible means are there of inducing 
the inhabitants of the tropics to undertake steady and 
continuous work if the local conditions are such that from 
the mere bounty of nature all the ambitions of the people 
can be gratified without any considerable amount of 
labour ? 

There are only two genuinely economic forces which 
will bring such labour more largely into the labour market : 
The growth of population with increased difficulty in getting 
a full easy subsistence from the soil is one ; the pressure of 
new needs and a rising standard of consumption is the other. 

These may be regarded as the natural and legitimate 
inducements to wage labour, and even in most tropical 
countries they exercise some influence, especially where 
white settlements have taken up much of the best land, 
in th^ lowest races, where the increase of population is 
kept down by high FAortality, aggravated by war and 
infanticide, and where new wants arc slowly evolved, these 
inducements are feeble ; but in more progressive peoples 
they have a fair amount of efficacy. Unfortunately, these 
natural forces are somewhat slow, and cannot be greatly 
hastened ; white industrialists are in a hurry to develop 
the country, and to retire w'ith large, quick profits. The 
case of South Africa is typical. There many of the Bantu 
races are fairly educable in new needs, and are willing to 
undertake wage labour for their satisfaction ; many of them, 
notably the Basutos, are becoming overcrowded on their 
reserved lands, and are willing t© go far for good wages. 
But the demands of a vast mining industry, growing within 

^ Tropical Colonization^ P* *55 (The Macmillan Co.). 


imperialism: a study 

a few y«ars to gigantic proportions, cannot await the working 
of these natural stimuli ; the mine-owners want an un- 
natural accession to the labour market. The result is frantic 
efforts to scour the continents of Africa and Asia, and bring 
in masses of Zanzibari, Arabs, Indian coolies, or Chinese, or 
else to substitute for natural economic pressure various 
veiled modes of political or private compulsion. 

The simplest form of this compulsion is that of employing 
armed force upon individual natives to “ compel them to 
come in,” as illustrated by the methods of the South 
Africa Chartered Company before 1897,' which, when the 
chiefs failed to provide labour, sent out native police to 
‘‘ collect the labour.” Save its illegal character, there is 
nothing to distinguish this from the corvSe or legalized 
forced labour imposed on natives in Natal, or the Com- 
pulsory Labour Ordinance passed by the Gold Coast 
Legislature in December 1895, reviving the lapsed custom 
under which it was obligatory on persons of the labouring 
class to give labour for public purposes on being called 
out by their chiefs or other native superiors,” and authorizing 
the Government to compel native chiefs to furnish as many 
carriers as were needed for the projected expedition to 

Military service, borrowing a semblance of ‘‘ civilized ” 
usage from the European system of conscription, is utilized, 
not merely for emergencies, as in the Kumasi expedition, 

^ Sir Richard Martin in hit report state* his conviction that the Native 
Conunissioners, in the first instance, endeavoured to obtain labour through the 
Indunas, but failing that, they procured it by force.*' 

Howard Hensman, defending the administration of the Company in his 
History of Rhodesia (Blackwood & Sons), admits the practice, thus describing it : 
** In l^odesia a native who declined to work " (i.e. for wages) ** was taken before 
the Native Commissioners and sent off to some mine or public work close at hand, 
paid at what, to him, were very hi^h rates, fed and housed, and then at the end 
of three months he was allowed to return to his kraal, where he was permitted 
to remain for the rest of the year " (p. 257). 

* Cf. Whites and Blacks in South Africa^ by H. R. Fox Bourne, p. 63. 


and in our South African campaign, where native labour 
had everywhere been pressed,” when ordinary economic 
motives failed, but for regular industrial labour. The 
classical instance is that of the Congo Free State, where a 
militia ” levy was made upon the population, nominally 
for defence, but really for the State and Chartered Company 
service in the “ rubber ” and other industries. 

In face of unrepealed decrees according “ une protection 
speciale aux noirs,” and prescribing that “ Tesclavage, 
meme domestique, ne saurait etre reconnu officialement,” 
a system of “ voluntary ” and “ militia ” levies has been 
instituted to be used in the establishment of plantations 
and the construction of works of public utility.” The 
accuracy of Mr. Fox Bourne’s commentary is attested by 
numerous witnesses. The ‘ force publique ’ with its 
‘ agriculteurs soldats ’ and others subordinate to it, when 
not employed on military expeditions, are used as overseers 
of what are virtually slave-gangs or as collectors of ‘ tribute ’ 
from the luckless aborigines, whose right to live in their 
own country, without paying heavily for the privilege, is 

So far as “ forced labour ” is designed merely as a mode 
of revenue to the State, a system of taxation in kind,” 
it cannot be condemned as essentially unjust or oppressive, 
however liable it may be to abuses in practice. All taxation 
is forced labour,” whether the tax be levied in money, 
in goods, or in service. When such “ forced labour ” is 
confined to the needs of a well-ordered government, and 
is fairly and considerately administered, it involves no 
particular oppression. Such servitude ” as it involves 
is concealed under every form of government. 

The case is quite different where ^governmental regulations 
and taxation are prostituted to purposes of commercial 
^ ^ Slavery and its Substitutes in Africa^ p. 1 1. 


imperialism; a study 


profit ; where laws are passed, taxes levied, and the machinery 
of public administration utilized in order to secure a large, 
cheap, regular, efficient, and submissive supply of labourers 
for companies or private persons engaged in mining, 
agricultural, or other industries for their personal gain. 

Where white settlers find “ lower races in occupation 

of lands rich in agricultural, mineral, or other resources, 

they are subject to a double temptation. They want 

possession of the land and control of a cheap native supply 

of labour to work it under their control and for their gain. 

If the natives ” are of too low an order or too untamable 

to be trained for effective labour they must be expelled or 
exterminated, as in the case of the “ lower nomads ” the 
Bushmen of Australia and South Africa, the Negritos, 
Bororos, Veddahs, etc., and even the Indians of North 
America. War, murder, strong drink, syphilis and other 
civilized diseases are chief instruments of a destruction 
commonly couched under the euphemism ‘‘ contact with 
a superior civilization.” The land thus cleared of natives 
passes into white possession, and white men must work 
it themselves, or introduce other« lower industrial peoples 
to work it for them, as in the case of slave labour introduced 
into the* United States and West Indies, or indentured 
labour into Natal, British Guiana, etc. 

But where the “ lower races ” are capable of being set 
to profitable labour on their own land, as agriculturists, 
miners, or domestics, self-interest impels the white to 
work a ** forced-labour ” system for their private ends. 
In most tropical or sub-tropical countries the natives can 
by their own labour and that of their families get a tolerably 
easy subsistence from the land. If they are to be induced 
to undertake wage labour for white masters, this must be 
put a stop to. So we have pressure brought upon govern- 
ment to render it impossible for the natives to live as 



formerly upon the land. Their land and, when they are 
a pastoral people, their cattle are objects of attack. 

The Torrens Act, by which ^n 1852 the doctrine of 
“ eminent domain ” was applied to South Australia in 
such wise as to make all the country virtually Crown land, 
though not ill-meant, has furnished a baneful precedent, 
not only for encroachment of British settlers, but for the 
still more flagrant abuses of Belgian adventurers on the 
Congo. White settlers or explorers, sometimes using 
legal instruments, sometimes private force or fraud, con- 
stantly encroach upon the fertile or mineralized lands of 
natives, driving them into less fertile lands, crowding 
them into reserves, checking their nomadic habits, and 
otherwise making it more difficult for them to obtain a 
livelihood by the only methods known to them. 

A chief object and a common result of this policy is 
to induce or compel natives to substitute wage labour, 
altogether or in part, for the ancient tribal life upon the 
land. Those ignorant of the actual conditions involved 
often sijppose that the alienation of lands or mineral 
rights, or the contract^ for labour, are negotiated in 
accordance with ordinary methods of free bargain. 

The modern history of Africa, however, is rich in instances 
to the contrary. 

The history of competitive knavery and crime, by which 
Lobengula was inveigled into signing away “ rights ” 
which he neither owned nor understood to the Chartered 
Company, cannot yet be written completely, but its outlines 
are plain and profitable reading. 

A “ free contract,” implying voluntary action, full 
knowledge and approximate equality of gain to both 
parties, is almost unknown in the dealings of superior with 
inferior races. How political treaties and industrial con- 
cessions are actually obtained may be described for us by 
S . 259 

imperialism: a study 

Major Thruston,^ who was sent to negotiate treaties in 
1893 in Uganda. 

‘‘ I have been instructed by Colonel Colvile to make 
a treaty with Kavalli, by which he should place himself 
under British protection ; in fact, I had a bundle of printed 
treaties which I was to make as many people sign as possible. 
This signing is an amiable farce, which is supposed to impose 
on foreign Governments, and to be the equivalent of an 
occupation. The modus operandi is somewhat as follows : 
A ragged, untidy European, who in any civilized country 
would be in danger of being taken up by the police as a 
vagrant, lands at a native village ; the people run away, 
he shouts after them to come back, holding out before 
them a shilling’s worth of beads. Someone, braver than 
the rest, at last comes up ; he is given a string of beads, 
and is told that if the chief comes he will get a great many 
more. Cupidity is, in the end, stronger than fear ; the chief 
comes and receives his presents ; the so-called interpreter 
pretends to explain the treaty to the chief. The chief does 
not understand a word of it, but he looks plea^d as he 
receives another present of bead,s ; a mark is made on a 
printed treaty by the chief, and another by the interpreter ; 
the vagrant, who professes to be the representative of a 
great Empire, signs his name. The chief takes the paper, 
but with some hesitation, as he regards the whole performance 
as a new and therefore dangerous piece of witchcraft. The 
boat sails away, and the new ally and protege of England 
or France immediately throws the treaty into the fire.” 

This cynical bit of realistic humour , expresses with 
tolerable accuracy the formal process of ‘‘ imperial expan- 
sion ” as it operates in the case of lower races. If these 
are the methods of poetical agents, it may well be under- 
stood that the methods of private concession-mongers ” 

^ Fersonal Experiences in Egypt and Unyoro (Murray). 



are not more scrupulous. Indeed, political protectorate ” 
and ** land concession ” are inextricably blended in most 
instances where some adventurer, with a military or other 
semi-official commission, pushes across the frontier into a 
savage country, relying upon his Government to endorse 
any profitable deal he may accomplish. 

But since, in the case of England at any rate, political 
expansion is commonly subordinate to industrial exploitation,' 
a treaty or concession, giving rights over land or minerals, 
is of little value without control of labour. Enclosure of 
lands, while it facilitates a supply of native labour by 
restricting free land for native agriculture or pasture, 
does not' commonly suffice. Various devices are adopted 
for bringing pressure to bear upon individual labourers to 
‘‘ contract ” for wage labour. The simplest, apart from 
direct compulsion, is to bribe chieftains to use their 
‘‘ influence ” with members of their tribe. Such was 
the system devised by the philanthropic Earl Grey to 
procure labour for the mines in Rhodesia.^ 

• SuclP bargaining, either with headmen ” or with 
individual natives, is usually conducted by professional 
labour touts, who practise every form of craft and false- 
hood so as to induce ignorant natives to enter a labour 
contract. In the case of the Transvaal mines this abuse 
had become so monstrous as to “ spoil the labour market,” 
obliging the mine-owners to go ever farther afield for their 
labour, and eventually compelling them to petition the 
Government for assistance in putting down the system 
of private labour touts and substituting authorized respon- 

^ ** We propose to give to the big chiefs, when they have proved themaelves 
worthy of trust, a salary of £$ a month and a house. . . . The indunas will then 
be responsible to the Government for the conduct of their people.” This, Earl 
Grey supposes, ” is the best way to secure a considerable revenue in the future 
in the shape of hut tax, and to obtain a fair supply of labour for the mines ” 
{Timesy November 28, 1896). 


imperialism: a study 

sible officials. Alike in the Boer Republics and in Cape 
Colony, the seizures of land and labour have been chief 
motives of the border warfare constantly recurring in the 
history of South Airica. The encroachments of Boers or 
British colonists upon native territory or reserves, or the 
seizure of cattle on border land by one party or the other, 
had led to punitive expeditions, the result of which has 
been further confiscation of land and capture of prisoners, 
who, formerly held as slaves, have in more recent times been 
kept to labour as apprentices ” or indentured labourers. 

The case of Bechuanaland in 1897 affords a serviceable 
illustration. A small local riot got up by a drunken native 
sub-chief on a trifling grievance, and involving armed 
resistance on the part of a few hundred Kaffirs, easily put 
down by a small body of armed volunteers, was exaggerated 
into a ** rebellion,” and was made a pretext for driving 
some 8,000 natives from the lands “ inalienably ” secured to 
them by the Bechuanaland Annexation Act of 1895, and for 
confiscating these lands for British occupation, while the 
rest of the population, some 30,000, were to be gradually 
removed from their settlements/ and given “ equivalent 
land ” in some other district. In the speech introducing 
the confiscation measure in the Cape Parliament, Sir 
Gordon Sprigg explained that this was “ very valuable 
land, and probably would be cut up into very small farms, so 
that there might be a considerable European population 
established in that part of the country.” There was no 
pretence that most of those who were deprived of their 
lands or deported were proved to have taken part in the 
** rebellion.” The sequel of this clearing is most significant. 
What was to become of the people taken from their land ? 
They were offered a ohoice between prosecution ** on a 
charge of sedition ” and service in the colony upon such 
conditions and with such rates of wages as the Government 



might arrange for a term of five years.” The Government, 
in thus proposing to compound a felony, was well aware of 
the extreme difiiculty of proving sedition ” in a court of 
justice, and, in point of fact, in two cases which were put 
on trial the Public Prosecutor declined to bring the case 
before a jury. The object of the threat of trial was to 
coerce into the acceptance of “ indentured labour,” and in 
fact 584 men, with three times as many women and children 
were handed over to serve under colonial farmers, wages 
being fixed at lOj. a month for able-bodied men and 
7/. 6 d, for women. 

Thus did covetous colonials kill two birds with one stone, 
obtaining the land and the labour of the Bechuana “ rebels.”^ 
It is not necessary to suppose that such incidents are 
deliberately planned ; where empire is asserted over lower 
races in the form of protectorate, the real government 
remaining in native hands, offences must from time to 
time arise, local disturbances which can by rash or brutal 
treatment be fanned into rebellion,” and form the pretext 
^or confiscation and a forcing of the landless rebels into 
“ labour.” 

^ The details of this business, recorded in Blue-hook C. 8,797, relating to natire 
disturbances, are most instructive to the student, of Imperialism. 

The inspector of Native Locations in his report of the a£lair distinctly asserts : 
** That it was not a general rising of the Mashowing people is certain, because 
there were not more than 100 natives engaged in the Kobogo fight.** Yet the 
whole of the Mashowing territoiy was co^scated and all the population treated 
as rebels. 

While only some 450 men were taken with arms, 3,793 men, women, and 
children were arrested and deported, 1,871 being afterwards ** indentured " in 
the colony. Seven-eighths of the prisoners were women, children, or unarmed 
men. Even of the men who were taken in arms at the Langeberg Sir A. Milner 
wrote (January 5, 1898) : “ I am inclined to think that in many other cases, if 
the prisoners had chosen to stand their ground, the same difiiculty (as in two 
cases taken to trial) would have been found in establishing legal evidence of treason* 
It is probable that, of the men who surrendered at the Langeberg, some had 
never fought against the Government at all, while many others had done so 
reluctantly. To bring home treasonable intent to any large number of them 
would, 1 conceive, have been a difficult matter ’* (p. 48). 


Among African tribes the most vutoerable point is the 
cattle, vimich form their most important, often their only, 
property. To encroach upon this is a sure way of pro- 
voking hostility. The Bechuana riot seems to have arisen 
from an injudicious handling of precautions needed to deal 
with the rinderpest. The second Matabele war, with its 
murders of white settlers and the wholesale slaughter in 
reprisal, was directly instigated by the seizure of cattle 
belonging to the tribesmen, on the unproven theory that 
all cattle belonged to the king and thus came into the 
possession of the Chartered Company. As a sequel of the 
first Matabele war large quantities of cattle had been 
stolen by white settlers to stock the farms which had just 
been pegged out for them in the land they had taken, and 
the further threat of a wholesale confiscation of cattle, 
though not carried into full effect, lay at the root of the 
subsequent rebellion.^ 

Everywhere these attacks upon the land and cattle of 
lower races, provoking reprisals, followed by further 
confiscation and a breaking-up of the old tribal liffi upon«> 
the soil, have as a related secondary object the provision 
of a supply of cheap labour for the new white masters, to 
be employed in farming, on mines, or for military service. 

^ Here is the account of a Rhodesian writer, defending the British policy : — 

** Seeing that Lobengula only allowed his followers to own cattle on sufferance 
as it were, all the herds in the country might be said to be the property of the 
late king, and that was the view which the British South Africa Company took. 
The number of cattle in the country at this time was estimated at not less than a 
quarter of a million head, and the indunas were ordered at once to drive in the 
cattle from the districts over which they had control to Buluwayo. Some of the 
indunas duly complied with this demand, in which they saw nothing more than 
what was to be expected ais the outcome of the war ; but others, and those chiefly 
who had not taken any part in the fighting, declined to do so, and hid the cattle 
away out of reach of the Native Commissioners. As the catde did not come in 
in such numbers as they ought to hive done, the Government ordered the Native 
Commissioners to collect and send in ^ach month a certain number of cattle. . . . 
This step proved a highly unpopular one among the natives {History of RbodestUy 
by H. Hensman, p. 165). 



Such labour commonly preserves a semblance of free 
contract, engagements voluntarily ” entered into for a 
fixed period at agreed wages. The amount of real freedom 
depends partly upon the amount of personal pressure brought 
to bear by the chief through whom bargains are commonly 
struck, still more on the amount of option which remains 
to get a hying from the land. 

This last is the vital matter in an understanding of 
forced labour.” In one sense all labour is “ forced ” or 
“ unfree,” where it is not open to the “ proletariat ” to 
get a living by cultivation of the soil : this is the normal 
condition of the vast majority of the people in Great Britain 
and in some other white man’s countries. What is peculiar 
to the system of “ forced labour,” as here used, is the 
adoption by a white ruling race of legal measures designed 
expressly to compel the individual natives to whom they 
apply to quit land, which they occupy and by which they 
can live, in order to work in white service for the private 
gain of the white man. When lands formerly occupied 
by nati^^s are confiscated, or otherwise annexed for white 
owners, the creation of#a labour supply out of the dis- 
possessed natives is usually a secondary object. But this 
“ forcing ” becomes a system when measures are devised 
by Government for the express purpose of ‘‘ compelling ” 


The simplest method, that of “ slavery,” is generally 
abolished by European nations. Corvie^ the Congo and 
former Rhodesian methods are seldom openly advocated 
or defended ; but the adoption of various forms of public 
compulsion in order to drive nativips into private service is 
generally approved by “ colonials,” and is sanctioned by 
imperialist statesmen. A chief instrument of this indirect 


imperialism: a study 

compulsion is t^xatipn. There is nothing essentially un- 
reasonable in imposing a hut or a poll-tax upon natives to 
assist in defraying the expenses of government, provided 
that care is taken in the modes of assessment and collection, 
and due allowance made for the fluctuating economic 
circumstances of agricultural populations with narrow 
markets and small use of money. But these taxes are not 
infrequently applied so as to dispossess natives of their 
land, force them to work for wages and even to drive them 
into insurrections which are followed by wholesale measures 
of confiscation. 

The case of the risings in Sierra Leone during 1898 attests 
the nature of this impolicy, and the following passage from 
the report of the Special Commissioner, Sir David Chalmers, 
deserves attention. His conclusions as to the causes of 
the insurrection are thus summarized : — 

** The hut-tax, together with the measures used for its 
enforcement, were the moving causes of the insurrection. 
The tax was obnoxious to the customs and feelings of the 
people. A peremptory and regularly recurring impost is 
unknown in their own practices and tradition. The 
English Government has not as yet conferred any such 
benefits as to lead to a burden of a strange and portentous 
species being accepted willingly. There was a widespread 
belief that it was a means of taking away their rights in their 
country and in their property.”^ “ The amount of the 
tax is higher than the people, taken together, can pay, 
and the arrangements by which liability is primarily placed 

^ Miss Mary Kingsley regards this ** widespread belief ** as justified. 

It has been said that the Sierra Leone hut-tax war is a ‘ little Indian Mutiny * ; 
those who have said it do not seem to have known how true the statement is, for 
these attacks on property^in the form of direct taxation are, to the African, 
treachery on the part of England, who, from the first, has kept on assuring the 
African that she does not mean to take his country from him, and then, as soon 
as she is strong enough, in his eyes, deliberately starts doing so ** {fVest African 
Studies, p. 372 ; Macmillan & Co.). 



on the chiefs to make good definite amounts on demand 
arc unworkable.” “ The mode of enforcing payment 
provided by the law would probably prove abortive, 
whether used to meet inability or unwillingness to pay.” 
“ Repugnance to the tax was much aggravated by the sudden, 
uncompromising and harsh methods by which it was 
endeavoured to be brought into operation not merely by 
the acts of native policemen, but in the whole scheme 
adopted by the colonial authorities.” 

Here Sir. D. Chalmers condenses all the familiar 
grievances of monetary taxes imposed by strong expensive 
white Governments upon poor native ” races. White 
government, if good, is expensive, hence taxation tends to be 
heavy in amount ; fixed in amount, it must be paid out 
of very fluctuating industries ; levied in money, it forces 
self-subsisting families or tribes to find markets for their 
goods or labours ; collected, as it must be, by native 
authorities, it breeds extortion, corruption, and cruelty. But 
Sir D. Chalmers lays his finger on the central vice when he 
•names a widespread belief that it was a means of taking 
away their rights in their country and in their property.”^ 

Where there exists a large growing demand for native 
labour this method of compelling natives to pay money 
taxes is seen to have a new importance. They can only 
earn money by undertaking labour contracts. Hence a 
system of direct taxation imposed by hut, poll, or labour- 
taxes is devised. Everywhere, as we have seen, under 
free popular government, the tendency is to subordinate 
direct to indirect taxation. “ Imperialism ” alone favours 

* Compare the pathetic pl^t of the natives in Rhodesia, as voiced by Sir 

Richard Martin in his official report. ** The natives practically said : * Our 
country is gone and our cattle j we have nofhing to live for. Our women are 
deserting us ; the white man does as he likes with them. We are the slaves of 
the white man j we are nobody, and have no rights or laws of any kind * ” 
(Cd. 8547 ). 


imperialism: a study 

direct taxation of the working classes. It does not, however, 
propose a general system of direct taxation applicable alike 
to white and blacks. The direct taxes with which we are 
here concerned are applied exclusively to the “ subject 

In South Africa their chief avowed aim is, not to provide 
revenue, but to compel labour. The hut and, labour 
taxation is not strongly developed in Cape Colony or in 
Natal, because the break-up of old tribal life, and the 
substitution of individual economic family life favouring 
wage labour, have hitherto furnished a sufficient supply of 
labour to countries, mainly agricultural, thinly peopled by 
white settlers, and only in one district, that of Kimberley, 
developing a considerable centralized demand for native 
labour. The hut-tax in these colonies has, therefore, not 
proved an oppressive burden. Only when the diamond 
fields found difficulties in obtaining a ready supply of native 
labour, and wages rose, did Mr. Rhodes, a chief proprietor, 
use his public position as Cape Premier to procure an Act 
designed to assist De Beers in obtaining cheap labour. By* 
this statute, the Glen Grey Act, it^-was enacted that every 
male , native in districts where the Act was adopted, should 
pay a “ labour-tax ” of loj. per annum, unless he could 
prove that during three months of each year “ he has been 
in service or employment beyond the borders of the 
district.’’ No secret was made of the fact that this measure 
was designed, not to provide revenue, but to compel to 
labour. ‘‘ If they could make these people work they 
would reduce the rate of labour in the country,” said Mr. 
Rhodes ; and in another speech in Parliament : It was 

wrong that there should be a million natives in that country, 
and yet that they shouldtbe paying a sum equal to about 

I a week for their labour, while that labour was absolutely 
essential for the proper development of the country.” 



The “ labour-tax ” has not, however, operated oppres- 
sively in Cape Colony ; for the diamond industry, being 
limited in output, has not demanded more native labour than 
could be easily supplied by ordinary economic inducements. 

It is in the Transvaal and Rhodesia that taxation of 
natives ripens into a plan for forcing labour. The mine- 
owners of the Transvaal are agreed as to their right and 
their need to compel the natives to undergo the dignity 
of labour, and they regard taxation as one important 
instrument. The testimony of witnesses before the 
Industrial Commission in 1897 was unanimous in favouring 
such compulsion, and Mr. Rudd, of the Consolidated 
Goldfields, stated the demand very plainly at the annual 
meeting of his company.^ “ If we could only call upon 
one-half of the natives to give up three months of the year 
to work, that would be enough. We should try some 
cogent form of inducement, or practically compel the native 
through taxation or in some other way, to contribute his 
quota to the good of the community, and to a certain 
extent be should then have to work.” The general feeling 
of the Outlanders ” in# the Transvaal has favoured the 
oppressive hut-tax of ^2, imposed by the Republic in 1895, 
and has only complained of its inadequate enforcement. 

Similarly, in Rhodesia, where mines require a larger 
supply of labour than can be obtained from natives by 
ordinary economic motives, an increase of the hut-tax 
and a labour-tax are an integral part of the public policy. 
Earl Grey, recent administrator and director of the Chartered 
Company, thus states the case ; ‘‘ Means have to be found 
to induce the natives to seek, spontaneously (jiV /), employ- 
ment at the mines, and to work willingly for long terms 
of more or less continuous employment. An incentive to 
labour must be provided, and it can only be provided by the 

^ November 19, 1S99. 


imperialism: a study 

imposition of taxation. I look forward to the imposition 
of a hut-tax of ^^i per hut in conformity with the- practice 
which exists in Basutoland^ and I also hope that we may, 
with the permission of the imperial authorities, be able to 
establish a labour-tax, which those able-bodied natives 
should be required to pay who are unable to show a certificate 
of four months* work.** 


It remains to add that one “ imperial authority ’* of 
some importance has expressly endorsed this policy of 
using public finance for private profit-making purposes. 
In a speech in the House of Commons dealing with the 
Chartered Company^ Mr. Chamberlain said : “ When you 
say to a savage people who have hitherto found their chief 
occupation in war, ‘ You shall no longer go to war ; tribal 
war is forbidden,* you have to bring about some means 
by which they may earn their living in place of it, and you 
have to induce them to adopt the ordinary means of earning 
a livelihood by the sweat of their brow. But with a race 
of this kind I doubt very much whether you can do it merely 
by preaching. I think that something in the natitre of avi 
inducement, stimulus or pressure is absolutely necessary 
if you are to secure a result which is desirable in the interests 
of humanity and civilization.** 

A far more thorough and logical application of the policy 
of taking natives from their life upon the land in order to 
perform wage labour is devised by the Transvaal mine- 
owners, The native labour problem there differs widely 
from the case of Kimberley, where only some 12,000 natives 
under strict control are required for the diamond industry. 
The intention of working out, with the utmost rapidity, the 
gold of the Rand can only be accomplished by securing a vast 
and a growing supply of native labour on the spot. In 1899, 
with great difficulty and at heavy expense, less than 100,000 

* May 7, 1898. 



natives were secured for work upon the mines. If twice 
or thrice' this number are to be procured and at lower 
prices, this can only be accomplished by using taxation, 
coercion and persuasion to induce large numbers of Kaffirs 
to come and settle down with their families upon locations 
in the mining districts, where the amount of land provided 
does not enable them to get a living from agriculture, and 
where they will consequently be dependent on wage labour 
at the mines, and will breed a permanent supply of young 
labour on the spot. The wages paid will be determined, not 
by competition, but by the Chamber of Mines ; the houses 
they will occupy will be the property of the mines, as also the 
shops where they will be compelled to deal. This has been 
the policy advocated by the chief mining experts. 

Break up the tribal system which gives solidarity and 
some political and economic strength to native life ; set 
the Kaffir on an individual footing as an economic bargainer, 
to which he is wholly unaccustomed, take him by taxation 
or other ** stimulus ” from his locality, put him down under 
circumstances where he has no option but to labour at 
the mines — this is the plan which mine-owners propose and 
missionaries approve.^ 

^ This has been the policy of the Glen Grey Act, and the following passage 
from the official report of a resident magistrate in a district of Cape Colony (Mr. 
W. T. Brownlie of Butterworth) makes its main economic motive transparent : 
** 1 have long held and still hold that the labour question and the land question 
are indissolubly bound together. In my opinion it is of little use framing 
enactments to compel unwilling penons to go out to work. It is like the old saw 
about leading a horse to the water ; you can take him there, but you cannot 
make him drink. In the same way you may impose your labour-tax, but you 
cannot make your unvrilling persons work. Create a hedthy thirst in your horse 
and he will drink fast enough. Similarly create the necessity for the native to 
work and he will work, and none better. 

“ Hitherto, under our commercial-tenure system, there has been little absolute 
necessity for our young natives to leave their homes to work. The land supplies 
them with food, and a few shillings will buy aablanket, and as soon as the young 
man marries he is entitled to receive his lot of arable land ; but once this is 
stopped — and it will be stopped by the survey and individual tenure — a young 
man before he marries a wife will have to be in a position to support a wife, and 


imperialism: a study 

This system of “ native locations,” fortified by hut and 
labour-taxes, and by pass laws which interfere with freedom 
of travel and practically form a class of ascrifti glebce^ was 
the method devised before the war by the missionaries for 
dealing with the labour problem in the Transvaal mines^ : 
it is the method still advocated by the South African 
Native Affairs Commission, reporting in 19PS*. To 
limit the access of the growing Kaffir population to the 
land and to impose taxes with the object of compelling them 
to wage labour, still remains the sheet-anchor of the South 
African labour policy. The drafting in of large numbers 
of Chinese is supplementary to this policy, used partly to 
afford an increased supply, partly to give mine-owners a 
better pick of Kaffir labour at a reduced price. 


The introduction of large numbers of Chinese ifito the 
Transvaal mines under the Labour Ordinance of {.904, hijs 
given great prominence to the indentured labour system 
which is widely operative in our tropical dominions. 

As regards the actual conditions of employment, there is 
reason to believe that where this system is practised under 
imperial protection as applied to Indian coolie labour it 

to obtain this he must work, and once having married her he must still work to 
maintain her and himself, and once the necessity of work is created there will be 
no lack of men ready and willing to work” {Blue-bwk on Native Affairs^ C. 31, 
P- 75 )- 

^ CJ, the Report of the Chamber of Mines for 1898 (quoted Cd. 9,345, p. 31), 
and the Report of the Industrial Commission, Johannesburg, 1897, passim. 

* The gist of the ** economic recommendations of this Commission is that 

squatting ’* of natives upon unoccupied public lands be stopped, that existing 
native locations for agriculture should be defined and that no more land should be 
reserved for the use of the groiling population of natives j that outside these 
restricted areas no land should be purchased or leased by natives, that a minimum 
poll tax of per head should be imposed on all adult male natives except those 
employed in wage labour or paying rates in towns. 

' 272 


has been free from the worst abuses of “ forced labour.” 
British Guiana, Mauritius, and Trinidad are the West 
Indian possessions where the system of importing Indian 
coolie labour has been most practised, and where the system 
is being tested. 

The law^ governing indentured labour in British Guiana 
provided against most of the abuses which beset the 
economic relations of white employers towards “ lower 
races,” and appears to be well administered. Here the 
Imperial Government in India approves all contracts with 
immigrants, and these contracts not only contain a full 
statement of time, wages, and other conditions of labour 
and of living for the immigrant and his family, but provide 
for his return, if necessary at the public expense, at the end 
of his time. During the term of his indenture in British 
Guiana he is under the protection of authorities appointed 
and controlled by the governor alone. An immigration 
agent-general, with a staff of agents, who visit all plantations 
where indentured labourers are employed, hear privately 
•all complaints, and bring them, if necessary, into the courts, 
retaining counsel and acting in all cases as the principals. 
Employers of indentured labour are obliged to keep and 
produce full and accurate books of accounts under heavy 
penalties, and are forbidden to pay wages below a certain 
sum or to overwork their labourers. No punishment of any 
kind can be imposed by employers without recourse to the 
courts. It is contended by Professor Ireland, who has had 
long experience as an overseer, that this system operates 
with remarkable success both economically and socially* 
in British Guiana and in other West Indian islands ; and 
in Natal, though “ coolies ” are regarded with anything 

^ As existing in 1903. 

* Tropical Colonization, chap, v, by Professor ireiand, gives a full and detailed 
account of the theory and practice of indentured labour in British Guiana. 


imperialism: a study 

but favour by large sections of the population, substantially 
the same protective legislation is in force, and there is every 
reason to suppose that indentured labourers are well 
protected as regards wages and other economic conditions. 

But the very encomium passed upon this well-administered 
system of indenture shows how defective is the grasp of the 
magnitude and the real nature of the issues involved in the 
control of tropical labour. 

It seems a light and natural thing that large bodies of 
men, with or without their families, should be driven by 
economic pressure to quit their native soil in our Indian 
Empire or in China, and absent themselves for ten years 
at a time in some unknown and remote colony. Migration 
to, and colonization of, sparsely peopled lands by inhabitants 
of thickly peopled lands is a natural and wholly beneficial 
movement, but the break-up of settled life, implied by 
long periods of alienation, is fraught with grave injuries 
to both countries alike. A country which relies for its 
economic development on continual influxes of foreign 
labourers who will not settle is impaired in its,, natural 
process of industrial and political self-development by this 
mass of unassimilated sojourners, while the country which 
they have abandoned suffers a corresponding injury. 

Why is it necessary or desirable that large bodies of our 
Indian fellow-subjects should desert their native land, 
removing for long periods their industrial services in order 
to develop another country which is not theirs ? If India 
is over-populated, permanent colonization is surely the 
remedy ; if it is not, this practice of indentured labour ” 
seems to testify to misgovernment and bad husbandry of 
our Indian resources. To break up considerable areas of 
Indian society, and renfiove its able-bodied males for ten 
years at a time, in order that these men may bring back 
some ** savings ” at the end of their term, seems at best a 



wanton sacrifice of the stability and normal progress of 
Indian society to a narrow consideration of purely monetary 
gain. History teaches, in fact, that a peasant people living 
on soil which they own will not consent thus to alienate 
themselves for purposes of slight economic gain, unless they 
are compelled by excessive taxation on the patt of Govern- 
ment, or by extortions of money-lenders, which deprive 
them in large measure of the enjoyment of the fruits of 
their labour on their land. 

However well administered this system of indentured 
labour may be, it seems vitiated in origin by its artificial 
character and its interference with normal processes of self- 
development. It involves a subordination of wider social 
considerations to purposes of present industrial exploitation, 
.What is true of the system, as applied in the West Indies 
and elsewhere for agricultural work, is still more true of 
industrial labour in mining processes. When “ civilized ” 
Kafiirs choose to quit their individual farms in the Transkei, 
or elsewhere, in order to earn extra money by three months* 
service jn the mines, no particular harm may offset their 
monetary gain ; but wl^en labour agents are employed to 
break up tribal life and tempt raw ’* Kaffirs away from 
their kraals and the restraints of their habitual life into the 
utterly strange and artificial life upon the mines, the 
character of the Kaffir goes to pieces ; he becomes a victim to 
drink if he can get it, and often succumbs to the vices of the 
crowded, laborious, unhealthy life to which he has sold 
himself, while the arbitrary restrictions under which he 
works and lives, however justified, degrade and damage his 
personality. According to the evidence of most experienced 
and competent investigators, he returns home a damaged ** 
man, and often by his example a damage to his neighbours.^ 

^ * Cf. Cap€ Cohi^ Blu€-6ooks on Native Affain^ G. 31, 1899, pp. 5, 9, 71, 75, 

91, etc. 5 G. 42, 1*98, pp. 13, 14, 58, 82. 



imperialism: a study 

The least reflection will expose the dangers which must 
arise from suddenly transferring men from a semi-savage, 
tribal, agricultural life to a great modern, elaborate, industrial 
business like that of diamond and gold mining. 

What is true of the uncivilized Kaffir is equally true of 
the more highly developed Chinaman. These men are 
introduced into the Transvaal as mere economic machines, 
not as colonists to aid the industrial and social development 
of a new country. Their presence is regarded as a social 
danger ; they are kept in “ compounds,” denied the right 
to acquire property or even to remain in the country as free 
settlers on the termination of their service. Hordes of 
able-bodied males, without any women, huddled in close 
barracks, rigorously guarded during work and at leisure, 
kept continually at hard routine manual labour, deprived 
of all the educative influences of self-direction in a free 
civilized society, however well-fed, however highly paid, 
these men are inevitably degraded in morals by the conditions 
of this service, and damage the society to which they 
return. • • 

Nor is this all. The effect upon the Transvaal is to 
substitute for a normal gradual and natural development, 
a hasty artificial abnormal development, to complicate the 
already grave racial and economic problems of the country 
by introducing a new factor of dangerous character and 
dimensions, a supply of cheap labour designed expressly to 
diminish the demand for white settlers and for black wage- 
earners, It is difficult to overestimate the gravity of the 
case in its bearing on the future of South Africa. 

The mining industry of the Transvaal is by far the most 
important industry in the whole country ; so far as British 
interests are concerne49 the whole future depends on 
husbanding and developing these resources so as to keep a 
Idtge growing number of permanent British colonists in 


the country. Now the cheapest and most profitable 
exploitation of the mines involves a minimum employment 
of white British labour and a short period of over-stimulated 
industrial activity. Although it is clearly the interest and 
the intention of the mine-owners, in defiance of the condi- 
tions in the ordinance, to displace by skilled Chinese labour 
most of tljie white labour formerly required for working the 
mines, it is possible that a considerable though fluctuating 
demand for British labour in other industrial and commercial 
undertakings may be furnished during this artificially 
shortened life of the richer mines. But upon such an 
economic foundation no secure fabric of industrial and 
political civilization can be erected : after a single generation 
of feverish gold-getting, in which British supremacy is 
maintained by a constantly changing majority of temporary 
town residents, the industrial strength of the country must 
steadily and surely decline, returning not to the more 
primitive condition of wholesome agriculture from which it 
temporarily emerged, but to a prolonged miserable struggle 
<5f trade* and manufactures in a country strewn with the 
decaying wreckage of disused mines and rotting towns. 
Hebrew mining speculators, American and Scotch engineers, 
Chinese miners, German traders will evacuate the country 
they have sacked, leaving behind them a population of 
Boers spoiled in large part by their contact with a gambling 
and luxuriant European civilization, and a host of Kaffirs 
broken from their customary life of agriculture and hanging 
around the cities of South Africa — a chronic pest of 
vagabonds and unemployed. 

Such are some of the reactions of the indentured labour 
system in South Africa. The legitimate and wholesome 
means of developing a country is hy utilizing the labour- 
power of its inhabitants, inducing them by ordinary economic 
stimuli to settle where remunerative employment is afforded. 


imperialism: a study 

If such a country is under-peopled, emigration is rightly 
encouraged from more thiddy-peopled lands. But such 
emigration should bring genuine colonists, people intending 
to become citizens of their adopted country, social as well as 
economic units. In such fashion, by free flow of populations 
from less desirable to more desirable regions, the civilization 
of the world is forwarded, and the social safety ajid future 
prosperity of the newly developed countries are best sub- 
served. An indentured labour system, however well 
administered, sins against the fundamental laws of civilization 
because it treats the labourers primarily as instruments and 
not as men. Badly operated, without proper safeguards of 
impartially administered law,^ it is a source of grave damage 
to the political, social and industrial prosperity of the 
country where it is applied. 

It may well be doubted whether there is a net gain to the 
civilization of the world by increasing the supply of gold 
and diamonds at such a price. 


It may be said : ‘‘ Whatever the motives of employers 
may be, it is surely a good thing to take natives, by persuasion 
or even by force, from a life of idleness and habituate them 
to labour, which educates their faculties, brings them under 
civilizing influences, and puts money into their pockets.” 

Now while the statement that such Kaffirs, West Africans, 
and other tropical or semi-tropical men, left to themselves, 
lead an idle life, is commonly a gross exaggeration, due 
largely to the fact that their work is more irregular and 
capricious than that of their women, it must be admitted 

^ The wont of nuiny evil feaHuiet in the Chinese Indentuxed Labour System 
of the Transvaal is that here alone within the dominions of Great Britain a latge 
body of residents are deprived of the right of appeal to the common law as 
adnunistered in the Courts of Justice. 



that the repression of internecine warfare and the restriction 
6f hunting do set free a large quantity of male energy which 
it is really desirable should be utilized for industrial purposes. 
But for whose industrial purposes ? Surely it is far better 
that the contact with civilization ” should lead these men 
to new kinds of industry on their own land^ and in their 
own societies, instead of dragging them ofF to gang-labour 
on the lands or mining properties of strangers. It can do 
this in two ways : by acquainting them with new wholesome 
wants it can apply a legitimate stimulus, and by acquainting 
them with new industrial methods applicable to work in 
their own industries it can educate them to self-help. 
Where native peoples are protected from the aggressive 
designs of white profit-mongers, this salutary evolution 
operates. In large districts of Basutoland and in certain 
reserves of Zululand the substitution of the plough for the 
primitive hoe or pick has led to the introduction of male 
labour into the fields every encouragement in stock- 
raising, dairy-farming, or other occupations connected 
with animals enhances male ' employment among natives; 
the gradual introductioii of new manufacturing industries 
into village life leads to men’s taking a larger share in 
those industries in or near the kraal which were formerly 
a monopoly of women. 

So far as Imperialism seeks to justify itself by sane 
civilization of lower races, it will endeavour to raise their 
industrial and moral status on their own lands, preserving 
as far as possible the continuity of the old tribal life and 
institutions, protecting them against the force and deceit of 
prospectors, labour touts, and other persons who seek to 
take their land and entice away their labour. If under the 
gradual teaching of industrial arts aqd the general educational 

^ Cf. Report oj South African Native Races Commission^ p. 52, etc. ; alto The 
Labour Question in South Africa, by Mist A. Werner ( 7 he Reformar, December 


imperialism: a study 

influences of a white protectorate many of the old political, 
social, and religious institutions decay, that decay will be 
a natural wholesome process, and will be attended by the 
growth of new forms, not forced upon them, but growing 
out of the old forms and conforming to laws of natural 
growth in order to adapt native life to a changed 
environment. . 

But so long as the private, short-sighted, business interests 
of white farmers or white mine-owners are permitted, either 
by action taken on their own account or through pressure 
on a colonial or Imperial Government, to invade the lands 
of “ lower peoples,” and transfer to their private profitable 
purposes the land or labour, the first law of “ sane ” 
Imperialism is violated, and the phrases about teaching 
‘‘ the dignity of labour ” and raising races of “ children ” 
to manhood, whether used by directors of mining companies 
or by statesmen in the House of Commons, are little better 
than wanton exhibitions of hypocrisy. They are based on 
a falsification of the facts, and a perversion of the motives 
which actually direct the policy. ^ . 


In setting forth the theory which sought to justify 
Imperialism as the exercise of forcible control over lower 
races, by regarding this control as a trust for the civilization 
of the world, we pointed out three conditions essential to 
the validity of such a trust ; first, the control must be 
directed to the general good, and not to the special good 
of the “ imperialist ” nation ; secondly, it must confer 
some net advantage to the nation so controlled ; lastly, 
there must exist some organization representative of inter- 
national interests, which shall sanction the undertaking 
of a trust by the nation exercising such control. 



The third condition, which is fundamental to the validity 
of the other two, we saw to be unfulfilled, inasmuch as each 
nation claiming to fulfil the trust of governing lower races 
assumed this control upon its own authority alone. 

The practice of Imperialism, as illustrated in a great 
variety of cases, exhibits the very defects which correspond 
with the unsound theory. The exclusive interest of an 
expanding nation, interpreted by its rulers at some given 
moment, and not the good of the whole world, is seen to be 
the dominant motive in each new assumption of control 
over the tropics and lower peoples ; that national interest 
itself commonly signifies the direct material self-interest of 
some small class of traders, mine-owners, farmers, or 
investors who wish to dispose of the land and labour of the 
lower peoples for their private gain. Other more dis- 
interested motives woven in may serve to give an attractive 
colouring to each business in hand, but it is impossible to 
examine the historic details in any important modern 
instance without recognizing the supremacy of ecor^omic 
•forces. •At best it is impossible to claim more than this, 
that some consideration, is taken of justice and humanity 
in the exercise of the authority assumed, and that inci- 
dentally the welfare of the lower race is subserved by the 
play of economic and political forces not primarily designed 
to secure that end. 

Everywhere, in the white administration of these lower 
races, considerations of present order are paramount, and 
industrial exploitation of the land and labour under private 
management for private immediate gain is the chief operative 
force in the community, unchecked, or inadequately checked, 
by imperial or other governmental control. The • future 
progress of the lower race, its gradual education in the 
arts of industrial and political self-government, in most 
instances do not at all engage the activity of imperial 


imperialism: a study 

government) and nowhere are such considerations of the 
welfare of the governed really paramount. 

The stamp of parasitism ” is upon every white 
settlement among these lower raceS) that is to say, nowhere 
are the relations between white iind coloured people 
such as to preserve a, wholesome balance of mutual services. 
The best services which white civilization might be 
capable of rendering, by examples of normal, healthy, white 
communities practising the best arts of Western life, are 
precluded by climatic and other physical conditions in almost 
every case : the presence of a scattering of white officials, 
missionaries, tradefs, mining or plantation overseers, a 
dominant male caste with little knowledge of or sympathy 
for the institutions of the people, is ill-calculated to give 
to these lower races even such gains as Western civilization 
might be capable of giving. 

The condition of the white rulers of these lower races is 
distinctively parasitic ; they live upon these natives, their 
chief work being that of organizing native labour for their 
support. The normal state of such a country is, one in 
which the most fertile lands and the mineral resources 
are owned by white aliens and worked by natives under 
their direction, primarily for their gain : they do not 
identify themselves with the interests of the country or its 
people, but remain an alien body of sojourners, a “ parasite ’’ 
upon the carcass of its “ host,” destined to extract wealth 
from the country and retiring to consume it at home. All 
the hard manual or other severe routine work is done by 
natives ; most of the real labour of administration, or even 

aggression, is done by native overseers, police and soldiery. 
This holds of all white government in the tropics or wherever 
a large lower population ,is found. Even where whites can 
live healthily and breed and work, the quantity of actual 
work, physical or mental, which they do is very small, where 



a large supply of natives can be made to work for them. 
Even in the parts of South Africa where whites thrive best, 
the life they lead, when clearly analyzed, is seen to be 
parasitic. The white farmer, Dutch or British, does little 
work, manual or mental, and tends everywhere to become 
lazy and “ unprogressive ” ; the trading, professional or 
official classes of the towns show clear signs of the same 
laxity and torpor, the brief spasmodic flares of energy evoked 
by dazzling prospects among small classes of speculators 
and business men in mushroom cities like Johannesburg 
serving but to dazzle our eyes and hide the deep essential 
character of the life. 

If this is true of South Africa, much more is it true of 
countries where climate inhibits white settlement and white 
energy, the general condition of those countries which 
represent the expansion of modem Imperialism. 

Nowhere under such conditions is the theory of white 
government as a trust for civilization made valid ; nowhere 
is there any provision to secure the predominance of the 
anterestSt either of the world at large or of the governed 
people, over those of the encroaching nation, or more 
commonly a section of that nation. The relations subsisting 
between the superior and the inferior nations, commonly 
established by pure force, and resting on that basis, are 
such as preclude the genuine sympathy essential to the 
operation of the best civilizing influences, and usually 
resolve themselves into the maintenance of external good 
order so as to forward the profitable development of certain 
natural resources of the land, under forced ” native labour, 
primarily for the benefit of white traders and investors, and 
secondarily for the benefit of the world of white Western 

This failure to justify by results the forcible rule over alien 
peoples is attributable to no special defect of the British* or 


imperialism: a study 

other ihodern European nations. It is inherent in the nature 
of such domination. “ The government of a people by 
itself has a meaning and a reality, but such a thing as 
government of one people by another does not and cannot 
exist. One people may keep another as a warren or preserve 
for its own use, a place to make money in, a human cattle- 
farm, to be worked for the profits of its own inhabitants ; 
but if the good of the governed is the proper business of a 
government, it is utterly impossible that a people should 
directly attend to it.’'^ 

^ J. S. Mill Representative Government^ p. 326. 



T he great test of Western ImpeVialism is Asia, where 
vast peoples live, the inheritors of civilizations as 
complex as our own, more ancient and more firmly rooted 
by enduring custom in the general life. The races of Africa 
it has been possible to regard as savages or children, “ back- 
ward ” in their progress along the same general road of 
civilization in which Anglo-Saxondom represents the van- 
guard, and requiring the help of more forward races. It 
is not so easy to make a specious case for Western control 
over India, China, and othef Asiatic peoples upon the same 
•ground.* Save in the more recent developments of the 
physical sciences and their application to industrial arts, 
it cannot be contended that these peoples are “ backward,^* 
and though we sometimes describe their civilizations as 
“ arrested or “ unprogressive,” that judgment either may 
imply our ignorance of the pace at which civilizations so 
much older than our own must continue moving, or it 
may even afford unconscious testimony to a social progress 
which has won its goal in securing a well-nigh complete 
adjustment between human life and its stable environment. 

The claim of the West to civilize the East by means of 
political and military supremacy must rest ultimately .upon 
the assumption that civilizations, Jiowever various in their 
surface growths, are at root one and the same, that they 
have a common nature and a common soil. Stripped of 



metaphor, this means that certain moral and intellectual 
qualities, finding embodiment in general forms of religion, 
law, customs, and arts of industry, are essential to all local 
varieties of civilization, irrespective of race, colour, climate, 
and other conditions; that Western nations, or some of 
them, possess these qualities and forms of civilization in a 
pre-eminent degree, and are able to impart them to Eastern 
nations by government and its accompanying political, 
religious, and industrial education. It certainly seems as 
if humanity ” implTes such common factors. The ethics 
of the Decalogue appears to admit of a wide common applica- 
tion ; certain rights of the individual, certain elements of 
social justice, embodied in law and custom, appear capable 
of universal appeal; certain sorts of knowledge and the 
arts of applying them appear useful to all sorts and conditions 
of men. If Western civilization is richer in these essentials, 
it seems reasonable to suppose that the West can benefit 
the East by imparting them, and that her government may 
be justified as a means of doing so. 

The British Empire in India may be taken as the most 
serviceable test. We did not, indeed, go there in the first 
instance for the good of the Indians, nor have our various 
extensions of political power been motived primarily by 
this consideration ; but it is contended that our government 
of India has in point of fact conferred upon the people the 
benefits arising from our civilization, and that the conferring 
of these benefits has of later years played a larger and a 
larger part in our conscious policy. The experiment has 
been a long and varied one, and our success in India is 
commonly adduced as the most convincing argument in 
favour of the benefits accruing to subject races from 

The real questions we have to answer are these : ‘‘ Are 
we civilizing India ? ” and In what does that civilization 



consist ? ” To assist in answering there exists a tolerably 
large body of indisputable facts. We have established a 
wider and more permanent internal peace than India had 
ever known from the days of Alexander the Great. We 
have raised the standard of justice by fair and equal 
administration of laws ; we have regulated and probably 
reduced the burden of taxation^ checking the corruption 
and tyranny of native princes and their publicans. For 
the instruction of the people we have introduced a public 
system of schools and colleges, as well as a great quasi- 
public missionary establishment, teaching not only the 
Christian religion but many industrial arts. Roads, rail- 
ways, and a network of canals have facilitated communication 
and transport, and an extensive system of scientific irrigation 
has improved the productiveness of the soil; the mining 
of coal, gold, and other minerals has been greatly developed ; 
in Bombay and elsewhere cotton mills with modern 
machinery have been set up, and the organization of other 
machine industries is helping to find employment for the 
* population of large cities. Tea, coffee, indigo, jute, tobacco, 
and pthex-* important crops have been introduced into 
Indian agriculture. We are gradually breaking down many 
of the religious and social superstitions which sin againn 
humanity and retard progress, and even the deeply rooted 
caste system is modified wherever British influence is felt. 
There can be no question that much of this work of 
England in India is well done. No such intelligent, well- 
educated, and honourable body of men has ever been 
employed by any State in the working of imperial govern- 
ment as is contained in the Civil Service of India. Nowhere 
else in our Empire has so much really disinterested and 
thoughtful energy been applied in» the work of government. 
The same may be said of the line of great statesmen sent 
out from England to preside over our government in India. 


imperialism: a study 

Our work there is the best record British Imperialism can 
show. What does it tell us about the capacity of the West 
to confer the benefits of her civilization on the East ? 

Take first the test of economic prosperity. Are the 
masses of the people under our rule wealthier than they 
were before, and are they growing wealthier under that 
rule ? There are some who maintain that Britis^i govern- 
ment is draining the economic life-blood of India and 
dragging her population into lower and more hopeless 
poverty. They point to the fact that one of the poorest 
countries in the world is made to bear the cost of a govern- 
ment, which, however honestly administered, is very 
expensive ; that one-third of the money raised by taxation 
flows out of the country without return ; that India is made 
to support an army admittedly excessive for purposes of self- 
defence, and even to bear the cost of wars in other parts of 
the Empire, while nearly the whole of the interest on capital 
invested in India is spent out of the country. The statistical 
basis of this argument is too insecure for much reliance to 
be placed on it : it is probably untrue that the nc^ cost of 
British government is greater tha^i the burden of native 
princes which it has largely^ superseded, though it is certainly 
true that the extortionate taxation under native rule was 
expended in the country on productive work or unproductive 
native services. Whether the increasing drain of wheat 
and other food-s tuffs from India exceeds the gain from 
improved irrigation, and whether the real income of the 
** ryot ” or other worker is increasing or diminishing, cannot 
be established, so far as the whole country is concerned, 
by any accurate measure. But it is generally admitted, 
even by British officials strongly favourable to our rule, that 
we have not succeeded in giving any considerable economic 

' About three-eighths of the country is still under native government, with 
British supervision. 



prosperity to India. I quote from a source strongly 
favourable to our rule : 

‘‘ The test of a people’s prosperity is not the extension of 
exports, the multiplication of manufactures or other 
industries, the construction of cities. No. A prosperous 
country is one in which the great mass of the inhabitants 
are able to procure, with moderate toil, what is necessary 
for living human lives, lives of frugal and assured comfort. 
Judged by this criterion, can India be called prosperous ? 

“ Comfort, of course, is a relative term. ... In a tropical 
country, like India, the standard is very low. Little clothing 
is required there. Simple diet suffices. Artificial wants are 
very few, and, for the most part are not costly. The Indian 
Empire is a peasant Empire. Ninety per cent, of the people 
live upon the land. . . . An unfailing well of water, a 
plot of land, and a bit of orchard — that will satisfy his 
heart’s desire, if indeed you add the cattle needful to him, 
‘ the ryot’s children,’ as they are caUed in many parts. Such 
is the ryot’s ideal. Very few realize it. An acre may stand 
for the modus agriy the necessary plot of ground. A man 
to an acre, or 640 men to the square mile, is the utmost 
density of population which India can comfortably support, 
except near towns or in irrigated districts. But millions 
of peasants in India are struggling to live on half an acre. 
Their existence is a constant struggle with starvation, ending 
too often in defeat. Their difficulty is not to live human 
lives — olives up to the level of their poor standard of comfort — 
but to live at all and not die. . . . We may truly say that 
in India, except in the irrigated tracts, famine is chronic — 

A century of British rule, then, conducted with so.und 
ability and goodwill, had not materially assisted to ward 
off the chronic enemy, starvation, from the mass of the 
‘ ^ India qni its Problems^ by W. S. Lilly, pp. Z84, 285 (Sands A Co.). 


imperialism: a study 

people. ^Nor can it be maintained that the new industrial- 
ism of machinery and factories^ which we have introduced^ 
is civilizing India^ or even adding much to her material 
prosperity. In fact, all who value the life and character 
of the East deplore the visible decadence of the arts of 
architecture, weaving, metal work and pottery, in which 
India had been famed from time immemorial. Archi- 
tecture, engineering, literary skill are all perishing out, so 
perishing that Anglo-Indians doubt whether Indians have 
the capacity to be architects, though they built Benares ; 
or engineers, though they dug the artificial lakes of Tanjore ; 
or poets, though the people sit for hours or days listening to 
the rhapsodists as they recite poems, which move them as 
Tennyson certainly does not move our common people,”^ 
The decay or forcible supersession of the native industrial 
arts is stiU more deplorable, for these always constitute the 
poetry of common life, the free play of the imaginative 
faculty of a nation in the ordinary work of life. 

Sir George Birdwood, in his great work on The Industrial 
Arts of Indiay written more than twenty yem ago*j 
gives a significant judgment upou the real meaning of a 
movement which has ever since been advancing at an 
accelerating pace : If, owing to the operation of certain 
economic causes, machinery was to be gradually introduced 
into India for the manufacture of its great traditional 
handicrafts, there would ensue an industrial revolution 
which, if not directed by an intelligent and instructed public 
opinion and the general prevalence of refined taste, would 
inevitably throw the traditional arts of the country into 
the same confusion of principles, and of their practical 
application to the objects of daily necessity, which has 
for three generations b^en the destruction of decorative 

^AtU and Ewropty hj Meredith Towmend, p. 102 (Conitable A Co.). 

* Now (193S) more than fift)r yean ago. 



art and of middle-class taste in England and North'-Westem 
Europe and the United States of America* The social and 
moral evils of the introduction of machinery into India are 
likely to be greater.’^ Then follows a detailed account of 
the free picturesque handicrafts of the ordinary Indian 
village, and the author proceeds : But of late these 

handicraftsmen, for the sake of whose works the whole 
world has* been ceaselessly pouring its bullion into India, 
and who, for all the marvellous tissue they have wrought, 
have polluted no rivers, deformed no pleasing prospects, 
nor poisoned any air ; whose skill and individuality the 
training of countless generations has developed to the 
highest perfection — these hereditary handicraftsmen are 
being everywhere gathered from their democratic village 
communities in hundreds and thousands into the colossal 
mills of Bombay, to drudge in gangs for tempting wages, at 
manufacturing piece goods, in competition with Manchester, 
in the production of which they are no more intellectually 
and morally concerned than the grinder of a barrel organ 
in the tupes turned out from it.” 

Even from the low standpoint of the world-market this 
hasty destruction of the native arts for the sake of employing 
masses of cheap labour in mills is probably bad policy ; 
for, as the world becomes more fully opened up and distant 
countries are set in closer communication with one another, 
a land whose industries had so unique and interesting a 
character as those of India would probably have found 
a more profitable market than by attempting to undersell 
Lancashire and New England in stock goods. 

But far more important are the reactions of these changes 
on the character of the people. The industrial revolution 
in England and elsewhere has partfken more largely of the‘ 
nature of a natural growth, proceeding from inner forces, 
than in India, and has been largely coincident with a 



imperialism: a study 

liberation of great popular forces finding expression in 
scientific education and in political democracy : it has 
been an important phase of the great movement of 
popular liberty and self-government. In India, and else- 
where in the East, there is no such compensation. 

An industrial system, far more strongly set and more 
closely interwoven in the religious and social system of 
the country than ever were the crafts and arts in Europe, 
has been subjected to forces operating from outside, and 
unchecked in their pace and direction by the will of the 
people whose life they so vitally affected. Industrial 
revolution is one thing when it is the natural movement of 
internal forces, making along the lines of the self-interests 
of a nation and proceeding pari passu with advancing popular 
self-government ; another thing when it is* imposed by 
foreign conquerors looking primarily to present gains for 
themselves, and neglectful of the deeper interests of the 
people of the country. The story of the destruction of 
native weaving industry^ for the benefit of mills started by 
the Company will illustrate the selfish, shoji -sighted 
economic policy of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth 
centuries. ‘‘Under the pretence of Free Trade, England 
has compelled the Hindus to receive the products of the 
steam-looms of Lancashire, Yorkshire, Glasgow, etc., at 
mere nominal duties ; while the hand-wrought manufactures 
of Bengal and Behar, beautiful in fabric arid durable in wear, 
have had heavy and almost prohibitive duties imposed on 
their importation to England.’^ ^ The effect of this policy, 
rigorously maintained during the earlier decades of the 
nineteenth century, was the irreparable ruin of many of 
the most valuable and characteristic arts of Indian industry. 

' Cj. the careful $ummary of 94ficial evidence in Mr. Romesh Duties Economte 
History of British India^ chap. xv. (Kegan Paul). 

* Eastern India^ by Montgomery Martin (London, 1838), vol. iii. Introd. 
(quoted Romesh Dutt, p. 290). 



In India the manufacturing power of the people was 
stamped out by Protection against her industries, and then 
Free Trade was forced on her so as to prevent a revival.’’^ 

When we turn from manufacture to the great industry 
of agriculture, which even now occupies nine-tenths of the 
population, the difficulty of alien administration, with 
whatever ^ood intention, is amply illustrated. Not a few 
of our greatest Indian statesmen, such as Munro, Elphin- 
stone, and Metcalfe, have recognized^ in the village com- 
munity the true embodiment of the spirit of Eastern 

“ The village communities,” wrote Sir C. Metcalfe,* 

are little republics, having nearly everything that they 
can want within themselves, knd almost independent of 
any foreign relations. They seem to last where nothing 
else lasts. Dynasty after dynasty tumbles down ; revolu- 
tion succeeds to revolution ; Hindu, Pathan, Moghul, 
Mahratta, Sikh, English, are masters in turn ; but the 
village communities remain the same.” The union 
Of the village communities, each one forming a separate 
little State in itself, has, I conceive, contributed more than 
any other cause to the preservation of the people of India 
through all revolutions and changes which they have 
suffered, and it is in a high degree conducive to their 
happiness and to the enjoyment of a great portion of 
freedom and independence. I wish, therefore, that the 
village constitutions may never be disturbed, and I dread 
everything which has a tendency to break them up.” 

Yet the whole efforts of British administration have been 
directed to the destruction of this village self-government 
in industry and politics. The substitution of the individual 
ryot for the community as the unit of revenue throughout 

* Romesh Dutt, p. 302. 

* Letter to the Board of Revenue, April, 1838 (quoted Romesh Dutt, p. 386). 


imperialism: a study 

Bombay and Madras struck a fatal blow at the economic 
life of the village, while the withdrawal of all real judicial and 
executive powers from the zemindars or headmen, and their 
concentration in British civil courts and executive officers, 
virtually completed the destruction of the strongest and 
most general institution of India — the self-governing village. 

Both these important steps were taken in furtherance 
of the new Western idea of individual responsibility as the 
only sound economic basis, and centralized government 
as the most efficacious mode of political machinery. The 
fact that it should be considered safe and profitable suddenly 
to subvert the most ancient institutions of India, in order 
thus to adapt the people to English modes of life, will be 
taken by sociologists as one of the most amazing lessons of 
incompetence in the art of civilization afforded by modern 
history. Indeed the superior prosperity of a large part of 
Bengal, attributable in part at any rate to the maintenance 
of a local landlord class, who served as middlemen between 
the State and the individual cultivators, and mitigated the 
mechanical rack-rent of the land-tax, is a seifficientlj^ 
remarkable testimony to the injury inflicted upon other 
parts of India by sudden ill-advised application of Western 
economic and political methods.*- 


When we turn from industry to the administration of 
justice and the general work of government in which the 
ability and character of British officialism finds expression, 
we are led to further questioning. Is Great Britain able 

^ The prosperity of districts under the Bengal settlement, as compared with 
other parts of British India, mt'st however be imputed largdy to the fact that 
this settlement enables Bengal to evade its full proportion of contribution to the 
revenue of India, and throws therefore a disproportionate burden upon other 


to Anglicize the government of India, is she doing so, and 
is she thereby implanting Western civilization in India ? 
How much a few thousand British officials, endowed with 
the best ability and energy, can achieve in stamping British 
integrity and efficiency upon the practical government 
of three hundred million people of alien race and character 
it is difficult to judge. Numbers are not everything, and 
it is probable that these diffused units of British authority 
exercise directly and indirectly a considerable influence 
upon the larger affairs of government, *and that this influence 
may sometimes permeate far down among native official 
circles. But it must be kept in mind that those few British 
officials are rarely born in India, have seldom any perfect 
understanding of the languages of the people, form a dose 
‘‘ caste,” never mingling in free social intercourse with those 
whom they govern, and that the laws and regulations they 
administer are largely foreign to the traditionary institutions 
of the Indian peoples. When we remember how large 
a share of real government is the personal administration of 
•detail, ^he enforcement of law or regulation upon the 
individual citizen, and that in the overwhelming majority 
of cases this work must always be left to native officials, it 
is evident that the formal virtues of British law and justice 
must admit much elasticity and much perversion in the 
actual processes of administration. 

‘‘ No one can deny that this system of civil and criminal 
administration is vastly superior to anything which India 
ever possessed under former rulers. Its defects arise chiefly 
from causes extraneous to it. The unblemished integrity 
and unswerving devotion to duty of the officials, whether 
English or Indian, who occupy the higher posts, no one 
will call in question. The character of the subordinate 
officials is not always so entirely above suspicion, and the 
course of justice is too often perverted by a lamentable 


imperialism: a study 

characteristic of the Oriental mind. ‘ Great is the rectitude 
of the English, greater is the power of a lie ’ is a proverbial 
saying throughout India. Perhaps the least satisfactory 
of the government departments is the police. A recent 
writer says, ‘ It is difficult to imagine how a department 
can be more corrupt.’ This, too, may be an over-state- 
ment. But, taken on the whole, the rank and file of the 
Indian police are probably not of higher inte'grity and 
character than those of New York.”^ Now one sentence 
of this statement deserves special attention. “ Its defects 
arise chiefly from causes extraneous to it.” This is surely 
incorrect. It is an essential part of our system that the 
details of administration shall be in native hands : no one 
can contemplate any considerable displacement of lower 
native officials by English ; the latter could not do the 
work and would not if they could, nor could the finances, 
always precarious, possibly admit of so huge an increase of 
expenditure as would be involved by making the govern- 
ment of India really British in its working. The tendency, 
in fact, is all the other way, and makes for the more numerous,, 
employment of natives in all but the highest grades of the 
public service. If it is true that corruption and mendacity 
are deeply rooted in all Eastern systems of government, 
and that the main moral justification of our rule consists 
in their correction by British character and administration, 
it is pretty clear that we cannot be performing this valuable 
work, and must in the nature of the case be disabled from 
even understanding where and how far we fall short of doing 
so. The comment made by Mr. Lilly upon Indian police 
is chiefly significant because this is thfe one department 
of detailed practical government where special scandals 
are most likely to reveal the failure of our excellent intentions 
as embodied in criminal codes and judicial procedure. 

^ India and its PrtAlems, p. 182. 



One would wish to know whether the actual native officer 
who collects the land-tax or other dues from the individual 
ryot practises the integrity of his British superior official 
or reverts to the time-honoured and universal practice of 
the East. 

How much can a handful of foreign officials do in the 
way of effectual check and supervision of the details of 
government in a country which teems with populations 
of various races, languages, creeds, and customs ? Probably 
not very much, and ex hypothesi th^jy, and so we, cannot 
know their failures. 

The one real and indisputable success*of our rule in India, 
as indeed generally through our Empire, is the maintenance 
of order upon a large scale, the prevention of internecine 
war, riot, or organized violence. This, of course, is much, 
but it is not everything ; it is not enough in itself to 
justify us in regarding our imperial rule as a success. 
Is British justice, so far as it prevails, and British order 
good for India ? will seem to the average Briton a curious 
» questioi^ to ask. But Englishmen who have lived in India, 
and who, on the who^e, favour the maintenance of our 
authority, sometimes ask it. It must, in the first place, 
be remembered that some of the formal virtues of our laws 
and methods which seem to us most excellent may work 
out quite otherwise in practice. The rigorous justice in 
the exaction of the land-tax and in the enforcement of the 
legal claims of userers is a striking instance of misapplied 
notions of equity. Corrupt as the practice of Eastern 
tax-gatherers has ever been, tyrannical as has been the 
power of the userer, public opinion, expediency, and some 
personal consideration have always qualified their tyranny ; 
the mechanical rigour of British law is one of the greatest 
sources of unpopularity of our government in India, and is 
probably a grave source of actual injury, 


imperialism: a study 

There is even some reason to suspect that Indians resent 
less the illegal and irregular extortion of recognized native 
autocrats, whose visible authority is familiarly impressed 
on their imaginations, than the actually lighter exactions 
of an inhuman, irresistible and immitigable machine, such 
as the British power presents itself to them. 

It is pretty clear that, so far as the consent of the governed 
in any active sense is a condition of success in goi^ernment, 
the British Empire in India has not succeeded. We are 
deceived by Eastern acquiescence, and our deception may 
even be attended by grave catastrophe unless we under- 
stand the truth. Mr. Townsend, who has brought close 
thought to bear upon the conditions of our hold of India, 
writes thus : — 

“ Per^sonal liberty, religious liberty, equal* jurtice, perfect 
security — these things the Empire gives ; but then are 
these so valued as to overcome the inherent and incurable 
duU distaste felt by the brown men to the white men who 
give them ? I doubt it greatly.”^ 

The reasons he gives for his doubt are weighty. The* 
agricultural populace, whom we have, he holds, materially 
benefited, is an inert mass : the active classes endowed 
with initiative, political ambition, patriotism, education, 
are silently but strongly hostile to our rule. It is natural 
this should be so. We have spoiled the free career open to 
these classes under native government ; the very order we 
have imposed offends their instincts and often thwarts 
their interests. The caste system, which it is the boast 
of our more liberal laws and institutions to moderate or 
disregard, is everywhere consciously antagonistic to us in 
self-defence, and deeply resents any portion of our educative 
influences which impairs its hold upon the minds of the 
people. This force is well illustrated by the almost 

* Asia and Evropdy p. lox. 



complete failure of pur energetic Christian missions to make 
converts out of any members of the higher castes. The 
testimony of one of the most devoted of Roman Catholic 
missionaries after thirty years of missionary labours deserves 
attention : — 

“ During the long period I have lived in India in the 
capacity of a missionary, I have made, with the assistance 
of a native missionary, in all between two and three hundred 
converts of both sexes. Of this number two-thirds were 
Pariahs or beggars, and the rest were composed of Sudras, 
vagrants and outcasts of several tribes, who, being without 
resources, turned Christians in order to form connexions, 
chiefly for the purpose of marriage, or with some other 
interested views.’’ ^ 

This view is* borne out in the general treatment of 
Christian missions in Mr. Barrie’s report on the census in 
1891. “ The greatest development (of Christianity) is found 
where the Brahmanic caste system is in force in its fullest 
vigour, in the south and west of the Peninsula, and among 
•the hill tribes of Bengal. In such localities it is naturally 
attractive to a class of, the population whose position is 
hereditarily and permanently degraded by their own 

If British Christianity and British rule were welcomed 
by large bodies of the ryots and the low-caste and Pariah 
populations, the opposition of the native “ classes ” might 
seem a strong testimony to the beneficence of our rule, as an 
instrument for the elevation of the poorer working people 
who always form the great majority. Unfortunately no 
such result can seriously be pretended. There is no reason 
to suppose that we hold the allegiance of any large section 
of the people of India by any q^her bond than that of 
fear and respect for our external power. Mr. Townsend 

^ Quoted Lilly, Iniia and its Problems, p. 163. 


imperialism: a study 

puts the matter in a nutshell when he affirms : There is 
no corner in Asia where the life of a white man, if un- 
protected by force, either actual or potential, is safe for an 
hour ; nor is there an Asiatic State which, if it were prudent, 
would not expel him at once and for ever.”^ There are, 
according to this view, no psychical roots to the civilization 
we are imposing upon India : it is a superficial structure 
maintained by force, and not grafted on to the true life 
of the nation so as to modify and educate the soul of the 
people. Mr. Townsend is driven with evidently deep 
reluctance to the conclusion that “ the Empire hangs in 
air, supported by hothing but the minute white garrison 
and the unproved assumption that the people of India 
desire it to continue to exist.”* It was indeed pointed out 
by Professor Seeley, and is generally admitted, that our 
Empire in India has only been rendered possible by the 
wide cleavages of race, language, religion and interests 
among the Indian populations, first and foremost the 
division of Mohammedan and Hindu. 

But it may be fairly contended that the forcibly founda-* 
tion of our rule and the slowness and reluctance of the 
natives to appreciate its benefits are no proof that it is not 
beneficial, or that in process of time we may not infuse the 
best principles of Western civilization into their life. 

Are we doing this ? Is the nature of our occupation 
such as to enable us to do it ? Apart from the army, which 
is the aspect of the Empire most in evidence, there is a 
British population of some 135,000,^ less than i to every 
2,000 of the natives, living neither the normal life of their 
own country nor that of the foreign country which they 
occupy, in no sense representative units of British civiliza- 
tion, but exotics compelled to live a highly artificial life and 
unable to rear British families or to create British society 

^ Asia and Europe^ p. 98. • Asia and Europe^ p. 89. ® At about 1900. 



of such a sort as to embody and illustrate the most valuable 
contents of our civilization. 

It is certain that the machinery of government, how- 
ever excellent, can of itself do little to convey the benefits 
of civilization to an alien people. The real forces of civiliza- 
tion can only be conveyed by contact of individual with 
individual. Now the conditions of free, close, personal 
contact between British and Indians are virtually non- 
existent. There is no real, familiar, social intercourse on 
equal terms, still less is there inter-marriage, the only 
effectivi^ mode of amalgamating two civilizations, the only 
safeguard against race hatred and race domination. ‘‘ When 
inter-marriage is out of the question,” writes Dr. Goldwin 
Smith, “ social equality cannot exist ; without social 
equality political equality is impossible, and a republic in 
the true sense can hardly be.”*^ 

The vast majority of whites admittedly live their own 
life, using natives for domestic and industrial service, but 
never attempting to get any fuller understanding of their 
•lives ancj^ character than is required to exact these services 
from them or to render 9fficial services in return. The few 
who have made some serious attempt to penetrate into 
the Indian mind admit their failure to grasp with any 
adequacy even the rudiments of a human nature which 
differs, in its fundamental valuations and its methods of 
conduct, so radically from our own as to present for its 
chief interest a series of baffling psychological puzzles. 
It is indeed precisely from these students that we come 
to understand the impossibility of that close, persistent, 
interactive contact of mind with mind which is the only 
method by which that “ mission of civilization ” which we 
profess is capable of fulfilment. Even those English 
writers who seem to convey most forcibly what is called 

^ Commonwealth or Empire (Macmillan & Co.). 


imperialism: .a study 

the spirit of the East as it shows forth in the drama of modern 
life,, writers such as Mr. Kipling and Mrs. Steel, hardly 
do more than present a quaint alluring atmosphere of un- 
intelligibility; while study of the great Indian literature 
and art which may be taken as the best expression of the 
soul of the people exhibits the hitherto unbridgeable 
divergence of the British conception of life from the Indian. 
The complete aloofness of the small white garrison^ is indeed 
in no small measure due to an instinctive recognition of this 
psychical chasm and bf their inability to enter into really 
vital sympathy with these members of an “ inferior race. 
They are not to blame, but rather the conditions which have 
brought them there and imposed on them a task essentially 
impossible, that of implanting genuine white civilization 
on Asiatic soil. It must clearly be undefstood that it is 
not a question of the slowness of a process of adaptation : 
the really vital process of change is not taking place. We 
are incapable of implanting our civilization in India by 
present methods of approach : we are only capable of 
disturbing their civilization.^ Even the external life of the' 
vast bulk of the population we hardly touch ; the inner 
life we do not touch at all. If we are deceived by 
the magnitude of the area of our political control and 
the real activity of the machinery of government into 
supposing that we are converting the Indian peoples 

^ The effects of this disturbance, however, may be of considerable importance. 
If, as is maintained by some Hindoo politicians of the new school, our influence 
is sensibly undermining the antagonism between Hindoo and Mohammedan, 
and is gradually breaking down the rigour of ** caste '* among Hindoos, it is 
tolerably manifest that we are sapping the sources of our political rule, by removing 
the most powerful obstacles to the growth of ** nationalism ** in India, If the 
levelling influence of our Western ideas, operating through religious, literary,, 
political and social institutions on the minds of the people, goes beyond a certain 
distance in breaking down the racial, religious and linguistic barriers which have 
always divided and subdivided ^ndia, the rise of a national self-consciousness 
upon a basis of common interests and common antagonisms may raise the demand 
of ** India for the Indians '* above the margin of vague aspiration into a region 
of organized political and military endeavour. 



to British Christianity, British views of justice, morality, 
and to the supreme value of regular intense industry, 
in order to improve the standard of material comfort, 
the sooner we face the facts the better. For that we 
are doing none of these things in an appreciable degree is 
plain to most British officials. Of the nearest approaches 
to such success they are openly contemptuous, condemning 
outright the Eurasian and ridiculing the stucco civiliza- 
tion of the baboo.” The idea that we are civilizing India 
in the sense of assisting them to industrial, political, and 
moral progress along the lines either of our own or their 
civilization is a complete delusion, based upon a false 
estimate of the influence of superficial changes wrought by 
government and the activity of a minute group of aliens. 
The delusion is ^nly sustained by the sophistry of Imperial- 
ism, which weaves these fallacies to cover its nakedness and 
the advantages which certain interests suck out of empire. 

This judgment is not new, nor does it imply the spirit 
of a “ little Englander.” If there is one writer who, more 
•than ansther, is justly accredited with the stimulation of 
large ideas of the destiny of England, it is the late Professor 
Seeley. Yet this is his summary of the value of the 
“ imperial ” work which we have undertaken in India : — 
At best we think of it as a good specimen of a bad 
political system. We are not disposed to be proud of the 
succession of the Grand Mogul. We doubt whether, with 
all the merits of our administration, the subjects of it are 
happy. We may even doubt whether our rule is preparing 
them for a happier condition, whether it may not be 
sinking them lower in misery ; and we have our misgivings 
that perhaps a genuine Asiatic Government, and still more 
a national Government springing up out of the Hindu 
population itself, might, in the long run, be more beneficial, 
^because more congenial, though perhaps less civilized, 


imperialism: a study 

than such a foreign, unsympathetic Government as our 


While India presents the largest and most instructive 
lesson in distinctively British Imperialism, it is in China 
that the spirit and methods of Western Imperialism in 
general are likely to find their most crucial test. The new 
Imperialism differs from the older, first in substituting for 
the ambition of a single growing empire the theory and 
the practice of competing empires, each motived by similar 
lusts of political aggrandisement and commercial gain ; 
secondly, in the dominance of financial or investing over 
mercantile interests. ** " 

The methods and motives of the European Powers are 
not open to serious dispute. The single aim of Chinese 
policy from time immemorial had been to avoid all dealings 
with foreigners which might lead to the establishment of 
inter-governmental relations with them. This #did not* 
imply, at any rate until recently^, hostility to individual 
foreigners or a reluctance to admit the goods or the ideas 
which they sought to introduce. Arabs and other Asiatic 
races of the West had traded with China from very early 
times. Roman records point to intercourse with China 
as early as Marcus Aurelius. Nor were their relations with 
the outside world confined to trade. Christianity was 
introduced some fifteen hundred years ago by the Nestorians, 
who propagated their religious views widely in the Central 
Kingdom ; Buddhist foreign missionaries were well received, 
and their teaching found wide acceptance. Indeed few 
nations have displayed ,.so much power of assimilating 
foreign religious notions as the Chinese. Roman Catholic 

^ 7 be Expansion of England^ pp. 273, 274. 



missionaries entered China during the Mongol dynasty, 
and later in the Ming dynasty.^ Jesuits not only 
propagated Christianity, but introduced Western science 
into Pekin, attaining the climax of their influence during 
the latter part of the seventeenth century. Not until 
the arrival of the Dominicans introduced an element 
of religious faction, attended by political intrigue, did 
Christianfty come into disrepute or evoke any sort of 
persecution. With the introduction of Protestant missions 
during the nineteenth century, the trouble has grown apace. 
Though the Chinese as a nation have never displayed 
religious intolerance, they have naturally mistrusted the 
motives of Westerns who, calling themselves Christians, 
quarrelled amongst themselves, and by their tactless zeal 
often caused Jocll rioting which led to diplomatic or armed 
interference for their protection. Almost all lay European 
authorities in China bear out the following judgment of 
Mr. A. J. Little : — 

The riots and consequent massacres resulting from 
•mission 'jj^ork throughout Indo-China may be justified by 
the end ; but it is certain our relations with the Chinese 
would be far more cordial than they are, were we not sus- 
pected of an insidious design to wean them from such habits 
of filial piety and loyalty as they possess, to our advantage.”^ 

The main outlines of Chinese policy are quite intelligible. 
Though not averse from incidental contact with Europeans 
or with other Asiatics, traders, travellers, or missionaries, 
they have steadily resisted all attempts to disturb their 
political and economic system by organized pressure of 
foreign Powers. Possessing in their enormous area of 
territory, with its various climatic and other natural 
conditions, its teeming industrial population, and its 

' A.D. 1138 to 1644. 

Through the Tang-Tse Gorges^ edition 1888, p. 334. 


imperialism: a study 

ancient^ well-developed civilization, a full material basis 
of self-sufficiency, the Chinese, following a sound instinct 
of self-defence, have striven to confine their external relations 
to a casual intercourse. The successful practice of this policy 
for countless centuries has enabled them to escape the 
militarism of other nations ; and though it has subjected 
them to a few forcible dynastic changes, it has never affected 
the peaceful customary life of the great mass of little self- 
sufficing industrial villages of which the nation is composed. 
The sort of politics ‘of which Western history is mainly 
composed has meant virtually nothing to the Chinese. It 
is the organized atte^npt of Western nations to break through 
this barrier of passive resistance, and to force themselves, 
their wares, their political and industial control, on China 
that gives importance to Imperialism in the Far East. It 
is not possible here to trace, even in bare outlines, the history 
of this pressure, how quarrels with traders and missionaries 
have been utilized to force trade with the interior, to 
establish treaty ports, to secure special political and 
commercial rights for British or other European^ subjects/ 
to fasten a regular system of foreign political relations upon 
the central government, and at the conclusion of the 
nineteenth century to drive China into wars, first with Japan, 
next with a confederacy of European Powers, which threaten 
to break up the political and industrial isolation of forty 
centuries, and to plunge China into the great world- 

The conduct of European Powers towards China will 
rank as the clearest revelation of the nature of Imperialism. 
Until late in the nineteenth century Great Britain, with. 
France as a poor second, had made the pace in pursuit of 
trade, covering this tradipg policy with a veneer of missionary 
work, the real relative importance of the two being put to 
a crucial test by the opium war. The entrance of Germany 



and America upon a manufacturing career, and the 
occidentation of Japan, enhanced the mercantile competition, 
and the struggle for the Far Eastern markets became a 
more definite object of national industrial policy. The 
next stage was the series of forceful moves by which France, 
Russia, Germany, Great Britain, and Japan have fastened 
their political and economic fangs into some special portion 
of the body of China by annexation, sphere of influence, 
or special treaty rights, their policy at this stage culminating 
in the ferocious reprisals of the recent^ tvar, and the establish- 
ment of a permanent menace in the shape of international 
political and financial conditions extort^id from a reluctant 
and almost impotent central government by threats of 
further violence. 

It is now hardly possible for any one who has carefully 
followed these events to speak of Europe undertaking 
‘‘ a mission of civilization ” in China without his tongue 
in his cheek.* Imperialism in the Far East is stripped 
nearly bare of all motives and methods save those of 
distinctively commercial origin. The schemes of territorial 
acquisition and direct ^political control which Russia, 
Germany, and France developed, the “ sphere of influence ” 
which has oscillated with “ an open door ” in our less 
coherent policy, are all manifestly motived by commerce 
and finance. 

China seems to offer a unique opportunity to the Western 
business man. A population of some four hundred millions 

' “ recent ” in 1903. 

*The Times correspondent, in describing the forcible entrance of the allied 
troops into Pekin, affords this glimpse into Christianity a la mode in China. ** The 
raising of the siege was signalized by the slaughter of a large number of Chinese 
who had been rounded up into a cul-de-sac and who were killed to a man, the 
Chinese Christian converts joining with the French soldiers of the relic vjng 
force, who lent them bayonets, and abandoned tjjiemselves to the spirit of revenge. 
Witnesses describe the scene as a sickening sight, but in judging such acts it it 
necessary to remember the provocation, and these people had been sorely tried 
(The Times f October 16, 1900). 



imperialism: a study 

endowed with an extraordinary capacity of steady labour, 
with great intelligence and ingenuity, inured to a low 
standard of material comfort, in occupation of a country 
rich in unworked minerals and destitute of modern 
machinery of manufacture or of transport, opens up a 
dazzling prospect of profitable exploitation. 

In our dealings with backward races capable of instruct 
tion in Western industrial methods there are thfee stages. 
First comes ordinary commerce, the exchange of the 
normal surplus produce of the two countries. Next, 
after Great Britain or some other Western Power has 
acquired territory ch invested capital in the foreign country 
with the aim of developing the resources, she enjoys a 
period of large export trade in rails, machinery, and other 
forms of capital, not necessarily balanced^ by the import 
trade since it really covers the process of investment. 
This stage may continue long, when capital and business 
capacity cannot be obtained within the newly developed 
country. But a third stage remains, one which in China 
at any rate may be reached at no distant period, when*' 
capital and organizing energy m^y be developed within 
the country, either by Europeans planted there or by 
natives. Thus fully equipped for future internal develop- 
ment in all the necessary productive powers, such a nation 
may turn upon her civilizer, untrammelled by need of 
further industrial aid, undersell him in his own market, 
take away his other foreign markets and secure for herself 
what further developing work remains to be done in other 
undeveloped parts of the earth. The shallow platitudes 
by which the less instructed Free Trader sometimes attempts, 
to shirk this vital issue have already been exposed. It is 
here enough to repeat that Free Trade can nowise guarantee 
the maintenance of industry or of an industrial population 
upon any particular country, and there is no consideration, 



theoretic or practical, to prevent British capital from 
transferring itself to China, provided it can find there a 
cheaper or more efficient supply of labour, or even to 
prevent Chinese capital with Chinese labour from ousting 
British produce in neutral markets of the world. What 
applies to Great Britain applies equally to the other 
industrial nations which have driven their economic suckers 
into China. It is at least conceivable that China might 
so turn the tables upon the We^rn industrial nations, 
and, either by adopting their capital and organizers or, 
as is more probable, by substituting her own, might flood 
their markets with her cheaper manufffctures, and refusing 
their imports in exchange might take her payment in liens 
upon their capital, reversing the earlier process of investment 
until she gmdiAlly obtained financial control over her 
quondam patrons and civilizers. This is no idle speculation. 
If China in very truth possesses those industrial and business 
capacities with which she is commonly accredited, and 
the Western Powers are able to have their will in developing 
•her upon^Western lines, it seems extremely likely that this 
reaction will result. • 


The inner significance of the joint attack of Western 
Powers in China lies here. It is the great speculative coup 
of international capitalism not fully ripened for inter- 
national co-operation, but still hampered by the necessity 
under which the groups of capitalists lie, of using national 
feelings and policies to push their special interests. So 
long as it is necessary to use diplomatic pressure and armed 
force in order to secure seme special field of investment in 
railroads, mining rights, or other developments, the peace 
of Europe is endangered by national intrigues and bickering. 
Though certain areas may be considered as more or less 


imperialism: a study 

definitdy allocated^ Manchuria to Russia, the southern 
provinces of Tonking, with Hainan to France, Shan-tung 
to Germany, Formosa and Fokien to Japan, for industrial 
exploitation and for political control, there are large areas 
where the industrial and future political control, as spheres 
of influence, is likely to cause grave discord. Yunnan and 
Quan-tung on the southern boundary are disputed territory 
between England and France, the Chinese Government 
having given to each of these Powers a similar assurance 
that these provinces should not be alienated to any other 
Power. Great Britain’s claim to the vast indefinite area 
known as the Yan|-Tse basin as her separate sphere of 
influence for industrial concessions and political dominance 
is now exposed to the serious avowed encroachments of 
Germany, while Corea remains an open sor6 between Russia 
and Japan. The United States, whose interest in China 
for investment and for trade is developing faster than that 
of any European Power, will certainly insist upon an open 
door, and will soon be in a position to back her claim by 
strong naval force. The present^ epoch, therefoj^e, is one' 
of separate national policies and special alliances, in which 
groups of financiers and capitalists urge their Governments 
to obtain leases, concessions, or other preferences over 
particular areas. It is quite possible that the conflicts of 
national Imperialism thus provoked, skilfully used for self- 
defence by the Chinese Government, may retard for a long 
time any effective opening up of China by Western enter- 
prise, and that China may defend herself by setting her 
enemies to fight among themselves. 

But it is idle to suppose that the industrial attack on 
China can be ultimately evaded. Unless China can be 
roused quickly from thp sleep of countless centuries of 
peace and can transform herself into a powerful military 

' Tke autbpr writct pf 1903. 



nation, she cannot esTcape the pressure of the external 
powers. To suppose that she can do this, because her 
individual citizens show a capacity for drill and discipline, 
is to mistake the issue. The whole genius of the Chinese 
peoples, so far as it is understood, is opposed to militant 
patriotism and to the strongly centralized government 
required to give eflFect to such a policy. The notion of 
China oi^anizing an army of six irullions under some great 
general, and driving “ the foreign d-^il ” out of the country, 
or even entering herself upon a career of invasion and 
conquest, ignores the chief psychological and social factors of 
Chinese life. At^any rate this is the itast likely of all early 
issues in the Far East. 

Far more reasonable is it to suppose that capitalism, 
haying failed tcf gain its way by national separatist policies 
issuing in strife of Western peoples, may learn the art of 
combination, and that the power of international capitalism, 
which has been growing apace, may make its great crucial 
experiment in the exploitation of China. The driving force 
•of the cqppeting Imperialism of Western nations has been 
traced to the interests of ^certain small financial and industrial 
groups within each nation, usurping the power of the 
nation and employing the public force and money for their 
private business ends. In the earlier stage of development, 
where the grouping of these forces is still distinctively 
national, this policy makes for wars in pursuit of ‘‘ national ” 
markets for investments and trade. But the modern 
science of militarism renders wars between civilized ” 
Powers too costly, and the rapid growth of effective inter- 
nationalism in the financial and great industrial magnates, 
who seem destined more and more to control national 
politics, may in the future render such wars impossible; 
Militarism may Tong survive, for that, as has been shown, 
is serviceable in many ways to the maintenance of a pluto- 


imperialism: a study 

cracy. Its expenditure furnishes a profitable support to 
certain strong vested interests, it is a decorative element 
in social life, and above all it is necessary to keep down 
the pressure of the forces of internal reform. Everywhere 
the power of capital in its more concentrated forms is better 
organized than the power of labour, and has reached a 
further stage in its development ; while labour has talked 
of international co-operation, capital has been * achieving 
it. So far, therefore, as the greatest financial and com- 
mercial interests are ^concerned, it seems quite probable 
that the coming generation may witness so powerful an 
international unions as to render wars between the Western 
nations almost impossible. Notwithstanding the selfish 
jealousies and the dog-in-the-manger policies which at 
present weaken European action in the I^r East, the real 
drama will begin when the forces of international capitalism, 
claiming to represent the civilization of united Christendom, 
are brought to bear on the peaceful opening up of China. 
It is then that the real “ yeUow peril ’’ will begin. If it is 
unreasonable to expect that China can develop ^ national 
patriotism ^hich will enable hef to expel the Western 
exploiters, she must then be subjected to a process of 
disintegration, which is more aptly described as the 
break-up of China than by the term “ development.” 

Not until then shall we realize the full risks and folly 
of the most stupendous revolutionary enterprise history 
has known. The Western nations may then awaken to 
the fact that they have permitted certain little cliques of 
private profit -mongers to engage them in a piece of 
Imperialism in which every cost and peril of that hazardous, 
policy is multiplied a hundred-fold, and from which there 
appears no possibility ^of saf^ withdrawal. The light- 
hearted, casual mood in which the nations have been drawn 
on to the opening up of a country with a population almost 



as large as that of Europe, nineteen-twentieths of whom 
are perfectly unknown to us, is the crowning instance of 
irrational government. In large measure such an enter- 
prise must rank as a plunge in the dark. Few Europeans 
even profess to know the Chinese, or to know how far the 
Chinese they do know are representative of the nation as 
a whole. The only important fact upon which there is 
universal* agreement is that the Chinese are of all the 
“ lower races ” most adaptable to purposes of industrial 
exploitation, yielding the largest surplus product of labour 
in proportion to their cost of keep. In a word the investors 
and business managers of the West appear to have struck 
in China a mine of labour power richer by far than any of 
the gold and other mineral deposits which have directed 
imperial enterprise in Africa and elsewhere ; it seems so 
enormous and so expansible as to open up the possibility 
od raising whole white populations of the West to the 
position of independent gentlemen,*’ living, as do the small 
white settlements in India or South Africa, upon the 
• manual ^il of these laborious inferiors. For a parasitic 
exploit so gigantic the ^competing groups of business men 
who arc driving on their respective Governments might 
even abate their competition and co-operate in the forceful 
steps required in starting their project. Once encompass 
China with a network of railroads and steamer services, 
the size of the labour market to be tapped is so stupendous 
that it might well absorb in its development all the spare 
capital and business energy the advanced European countries 
and the United States can supply for generations. Such 
an experiment may revolutionize the methods of Imperial- 
ism ; the pressure of working-class movements in politics 
and industry in the West can bc^met by a flood of China 
goods, so as to keep down wages and compel industry, or, 
where the power of the imperialist oligarchy is well set, 


imperialism: a study 

by menaces of yellow workmen or of yellow mercenary 
troops, while collaboration in this huge Eastern development 
may involve an understanding between the groups of business 
politicians in the Western States close enough and strong 
enough to secure international peace in Europe and some 
relaxation of militarism. 

This would drive the logic of Imperialism far towards 
realization ; its inherent necessary tendencies towards 
unchecked oligarchy in politics, and parasitism in industry, 
would be plainly exhibited in the condition of the “ im- 
perialist ” nations. The greater part of Western Europe 
might then assumd^the appearance and character already 
exhibited by tracts of country in the South of England, in 
the Riviera, and in the tourist-ridden or residential parts 
of Italy and Switzerland, little clusters of Wealthy aristocrats 
drawing dividends and pensions from the Far East, with 
a somewhat larger group of professional retainers and 
tradesmen and a large body of personal servants and workers 
in the transport trade and in the final stages of production 
of the more perishable goods : all the ma^ arterial 
industries would have disappeared^ the staple foods and 
manufactures flowing in as tribute from Asia and Africa.^ 
It is, of course, idle to suppose that the industrialization 
of China by Western methods can be achieved without 
effective political control, and just in proportion as Western 
Europe became dependent economically upon China would 
the maintenance of that joint imperial control react upon 
Western politics, subordinating all movements of domestic 
reform to the need of maintaining the Empires, and check- 

^ Mr. Bryce, in his Romanes Lecture, p. 9, seems to hint at the probability of 
such a development. ** It is hardly too much to say that for economic purposes 
all mankind is fast becoming one people, in which the hitherto backward nations 
are taking a place analogous to that whidi the unskilled workers have held in 
each one of the civilized nations. Such an event opens a new stage in world 



mating the forces of democracy by a skilful use of a highly 
centralized bureaucracy and army. 

How far the advent of Japan into the status of a first 
rank political' and industrial power will affect the problem 
of Imperialism in Asia is a question which presses ever more 
vigorously upon the consideration of Western nations. It 
is, however, impossible to deny that the recent manifestation 
of Japan as an Eastern nation equipped with all the effective 
practical arts of Western civilizatmn is likely to alter pro* 
foundly the course of Asiatic history in the near future. 

Regarding as the most important issue the economic 
development of China upon Western *Iines, we cannot fail 
to see that Japan has great advantages over Western 
powers for doing this work and securing the profits which 
it will yield. /These advantages are partly derived from 
certain energies of mind which the Japanese exhibit, partly 
from the geographical and racial factors in the situation. 
Summarizing the acknowledged facts, the Japanese, as a 
people, seem to have assimilated within two generations 
all thos^ mechanical and political sciences of the West 
which contribute to the military, commercial and social 
strength of a nation, while they can operate these instruments 
of civilization quite as accurately and more economically 
from the standpoint of the common good than any of the 
nations which have been their teachers. If this is “ imita- 
tion ” it is thoroughly intelligent imitation, for it is admitted 
that the Japanese have exercised fine judgment in selecting 
the weapons, machines, laws and customs which they have 
adopted, and that they work their political, social and 
economic institutions easily and efficiently. The wonderful 
success of Japan appears to be in large measure due to two 
inner sources of economy. In t)ie first place they appear 
to be able to give out a great quantity of mental energy in 
the complex operations of modern life without sustaining 


imperialism: a study 

the amount of nervous waste perceptible in Western peoples : 
they appear to do more easily a larger quantity of cerebral 
work. Secondly, a more widely diffused, a more intense 
and a more sustained public spirit appears to produce a 
better co-operation of individual activities for the common 
good than is found in any Western people ; there is less 
waste from indolence, corruption and other diseases of 
officialism, while a high consideration of public service 
pervades the popular mind. This intense patriotism and 
self-sacrifice 'may be only a psychical survival from an old 
social order which is passing away, but so long as it endures, 
it supplies a great operative force for further activity. 

The proximity of Japan to North China, the associations 
of race, language, religion, literature, modes of life must 
give Japan an immense advantage over any European race 
in the economic development of China. If, as seems likely, 
the peace following the Russo-Japanese war opens an era 
of rapid commercial expansion for Japan, and capitalism 
advances swiftly within her islands, China will be the 
natural outlet for the investment of her capital ai^d for the** 
employment of her organizing energy in business and in the 
public services. Whether Japan will be dominated by the 
same spirit of territorial aggrandisement and political 
empire as European nations have exhibited depends in 
large measure upon the part played by the latter in the 
opening up of China. If the Western powers keep their 
political and military hands off China, content to encourage 
private companies to build railways, start mining and 
manufacturing operations and open up commercial inter- 
course with the interior, keeping the policy of “ an open- 
door,” Japan will play this same game, but more successfully 
because of the better cards she holds, and the prestige of 
her successful war will stand her in good stead. If, on the 
other hand, there is closing of doors, ear-marking, and 



further political absorption of chosen areas by the Western 
powers, Japan will be driven to enter this sort of competition, 
and with her better understanding of the conditions of 
success, and her superior faculty for managing the Chinese, 
is likely to get the better of her European and American 

Should European nations resent the growing industrial 
or perhaps political, supremacy of Japan in China and adopt 
some concerted action to defend thek ‘‘ spheres of influence ” 
or their extorted “ concessions,” it is not wholfy improbable 
that Japan may organize a great military and naval power 
in which she will utilize the latent fot\:e of China to drive 
the Western nations out of the China seas. 

Such an opportunity for playing a great new part in 
imperial history^may be open to Japan ; if so, her temporary 
alliances with European powers are not likely to divert 
her from a course which will seem to her people as plain 
an instance of “ manifest destiny ” as any of the exploits 
of imperialism in the annals of England or the United 

In speculating on tl\e chances of this new chapter of 
world-history, a great deal depends upon how far Japan 
maintains her financial independence and is enabled to 
avoid becoming a catspaw of cosmopolitan capitalism in the 
great work of developing China. Should the future indus- 
trialization of Japan and China be conducted in the main 
out of their own resources of capital and organizing skill, 
passing quickly through a short period of dependence upon 
Europe for capital and instruction, the great industrial 
power of the Far East may quickly launch itself upon the 
world-market as the biggest and most effective competitor 
in the great machine industries,^ taking to itself first the 
trade of Asia and the Pacific, and then swamping the 
markets of the West and driving these nations to a still 


imperialism: a study 

more rigorous Protection with its corollary of diminished 
production. Lastly, it is conceivable that the powerful 
industrial and financial classes of the West, in order better 
to keep the economic and political mastery at home, may 
combine to reverse the policy which has hitherto been 
gaining ground in the United States and in our white 
colonies, and may insist upon the free importation of yellow 
labour for domestic and industrial service in the Wbst. This 
is a weapon which the;^hold in reserve, should they need to 
use it in or^er to keep the populace in safe subjection. 

Those who regard with complacency the rapid develop- 
ment of China, because of a general conviction that the 
liberation of these great productive forces must by ordinary 
processes of commercial intercourse be beneficial to the 
Western nations, entirely miss the issue.*' The peaceful, 
equitable distribution over the industrial world of the 
increase of world-wealth rising from the development of 
China implies a successful movement of industrial democracy 
in the Western nations, yielding not merely increased pro- 
ductivity of their national resources, but a conp-inual rise® 
in standard of consumption of the peoples. Such a condition 
might, by securing ordinary processes of world-exchange, 
enrich the nations with a legitimate share of the prosperity 
of China. But the economic raison (Pitre of Imperialism 
in the opening up of China is, as we see, quite other than 
the maintenance of ordinary commerce : it consists in 
establishing a vast new market for Western investors, the 
profits of which will represent the gains of an investing 
class and not the gains of whole peoples. The normal 
healthy processes of assimilation of increased world-wealth 
by nations are inhibited by the nature of this Imperialism, 
whose essence consists in, developing markets for investment, 
not for trade, and in using the superior economies of cheap 
foreign production to supersede the industries of their own 



nation, and to maintain the political and economic 
domination of a class. 


So far the influence of the “ opening ” or ‘‘ break-up ” 
of China upon the Western world has been the subject of 
inquiry. Let us now ask what this break-up means 
for China? Certain plain features stand out in the structure 
of Chinese society. China has nev^r been^a great Empire, 
or had any strong national existence in the European sense. 
The central government has always been very slight, 
virtually confined to a taxing power escercised through the 
provincial government, and to a small power of appointment 
of high officials. Even the provincial government has, in 
ordinary times, touched the actual life of the mass of the 
people lightly and at few points. China may be described 
properly as a huge nest of little free village communes, self- 
governing, and animated by a genuine spirit of equality. 
Mr. Colquhoun names the faculty of local self-government 
•as ‘‘ a n^^in source of national vitality.’* “ Groups of 
families constitute villages, which are self-governing, and 
the official who ventures to trench on their immemorial 
rights to the point of resistance is, according to an official 
code not confined to China, disavowed by his superiors, and 
generally finds a change of scene imperative. “ The 
family system, with its extension to village and town groups, 
is the cheapest form of government extant, for it dispenses 
with police, while disposing effectually of offenders against 
the peace or respectability of the community.”^ Similarly 
the great German explorer Richthofen : ‘‘No people in the 
world are more exempt from official interference.” 

“ The great fact,” says Colqu^^oun, “ to be noted as 
between the Chinese and the Government is the almost 

^ TransfomtaiWH in Cbina^ by A. R. Colquhoun, p. 176. 


imperialism: a study 

unexampled liberty which the people enjoy, and the 
infinitesimally small part which Government plays in the 
scheme of national life.”^ 

The family is the political, economic, and moral unit of 
society, the village commune being either a direct enlarge- 
ment of a single family or a group of closely related families. 
Sometimes communal ownership is maintained, but usually 
a division takes place with each growth of family, and the 
operative principle in g^ieral vogue is an occupying owner- 
ship of small proprietors, paying a low land-tax to the 
State, the sole landlord, in return for a lease in perpetuity. 
The land-tax is based«*on profitable use, and unoccupied lands 
revert to the community. Patrimonial institutions prevent 
accumulation of large properties. Numerous provisions 
of law and custom provide against larid-grabbing and 
monopoly. “ Nowhere in China would it be possible for 
a rich man to take possession of a spring and convey its 
water to his pond by subterranean drains, leaving dry the 
fields under which it passed. Water is as indispensable to 
life as air and land. No individual has the right to say* 
^ It is mine, it belongs to me.’ This feeling is very strongly 
rooted in China.”* 

A family council, partly elective, partly hereditary, 
settles most important issues, punishing crimes, collecting 
the taxes, and settling divisions of property; recourse to 
legal processes is rare, the moral authority of the family 
commonly suflScing to preserve order. 

This moral factor is, indeed, the one great vital principle 
in Chinese life. It not only governs economic relations, 
and presents a substitute for wider politics, but it figures 
prominently in the education and the religious or ethical 
system of the people. *‘,Xife seems so little worth living to 
a man outlawed from family and home that even capital 

^ Transformation in China^ by A. R. Colquhoun, p. 296. * Colquhoun. 



sentences are executed bjr consent ” and where growth of 
population drives male members to seek employment in the 
towns, the closest family associations arc retained. The 
reverence for' family history and for the moral obligations 
it entails constitutes the kernel of national culture and the 
great stimulus to individual education and ambition in life. 

Upon this basis is built one of the most extraordinary 
civilizations the world has known, differing in certain very 
vital matters from the civilization jf the West. 

Two points merit particular attention, because they drive 
down into the roots of Chinese civilization. The first is the 
general recognition of that “ dignity ©f labour ’’ which in 
the West has degenerated into a cant phrase so far as the 
common forms of work are concerned. Manual labour is 
not only a necessary means of livelihood, but a genuinely 
absorbing personal interest for the entire body of the nation ; 
with simple tools, and scarcely any use of machinery, minute 
personal skill is applied to agriculture and the manufactures ; 
most workers have some considerable variety of occupation, 
•and see and enjoy the useful results of their toil. The whole 
economic system stands qn a broad basis of bread labour,” 
applied in intensive cultivation of the land ; destitute of 
Western science or Western machinery, the detailed 
empirical study of agriculture has been carried farther than 
in any other country, and this gardening ” life is the 
most prominent factor in the external civilization of the 

The second point is the wide diffusion of some sort of 
literary education and a genuine reverence for ‘‘ things of 
the mind.” The high respect in which a narrow conserva- 
tive and pedantic literary system is held, the extraordinary 
importance attached to verbal memory and trivialities of 
ritual in their culture, have not unnaturally aroused much 

^ Simcox, Primitive Civiliasatiens, rol. II. 


imperialism: a study 

astonishment and some contempt among educated Westerns. 
But the general prevalence of schools and libraries, the 
democratization of the machinery of education, the opening 
of the highest offices of State to a free competition of the 
people, conducted on an intellectual test, are indicative of a 
standard of valuation which entitles China to rank high 
among the civilizations of the world. In no Western nation 
do the man of learning and the gardener rank higher in the 
common regard ' of the^ people than the soldier. These 
valuations, economic and intellectual, lie firmly rooted in 
the Chinese mind, and have helped through countless genera- 
tions to mould the'^social institutions of the people. The 
civilization, sprung up under these conditions, manifests 
some serious defects, compared with the best standards of 
the West. Life and conduct seem unduly f cramped by 
detailed conventions ; outside officialism there seems little 
scope for individual distinction ; beyond the range of 
family, emotional life appears attenuated ; the fine arts 
have never flourished, literature is conventional, morals 
are closely practical ; the rigorous economy of material life 
seems attended by a less sensitixe, nervous organization 
than that of any Western nation, and individual life seems 
to run upon a somewhat lower level of consciousness, and to 
be valued proportionately less. 

But it should be recognized that the merits of this civiliza- 
tion are better attested than the defects, for the fruits 
of Chinese industry, honesty, orderly behaviour, and high 
regard for learning, are easily discernible by foreigners, 
while the more serious defects might vanish or be deeply 
modified by a more intimate understanding of Chinese 
psychology than any foreigner is likely to possess. The 
“ barbarities ” which haye commonly won for China an ill- 
fame in Western lands, the savage punishments inflicted 
on criminals, the exposure of female infants, the brutal 


assaults on foreigners, are no normal part of the conduct 
of the nation, but rather sporadic survivals of brute habits 
and instincts, not more to be regarded as final tests of the 
civilization of China than negro-lynching of that of America 
or wife-kicking of that of England. 

If this brief conspectus of the essential features of Chinese 
civilization is substantially correct, it is evident that ‘‘ the 
break-up ” brought about by the forces of Western nations 
will destroy the very foundations of the national order. 

Its first fruits have been to impair security oyife, peaceful 
industry and property over large areas of territory, to 
arouse a disorderly spirit of guerilla, tp erect large public 
debts and so to enhance the burden o\ central government 
upon the body of the people, diminishing their communal 
independence. ^As the Western economic forces make 
further way, 'they must, partly by increased taxation needed 
for an expensive central government with armies, elaborate 
civil services and military debts, partly by the temptation 
of labour agents, draw large numbers of the workers from 
the position of independent little farmers into that of town 
wage-earners. This drain of population into industrial 
cities and mining districts, and the specialization of agri- 
culture for large markets, will break up the communal land 
system with its fixed hereditary order and will sap the 
roots of family solidarity, introducing those factors of 
fiuidity, minute subdivision, and concentration of labour 
which are the distinctive characteristics of Western industry. 
The economic and social equality which belongs to ordinary 
Chinese life will disappear before a new system of industrial 
caste which capitalism will entail. The decay of morals, 
which is so noticeable in the declasses Chinese, will spread 
with the decay of the family power, and an elaborate 
judicial and punitory machinery will replace the rule of the 
self-governing family. This collapse of local status will 
W 323 

imperialism: a study 

react upon the habit of commercial integrity attested 
throughout China by the inviolability of business pledges ; 
the new credit system of elaborate Western commerce will 
involve a network of commercial law and an education in 
that habit of litigiousness which exercises so dangerous a 
fascination over some other Asiatic peoples. The increase 
of wealth which this new industrialism would bring would 
either flow in economic tribute to the West, or v^o^ld go to 
the endowment, of a new powerful capitalist caste in China 
itself, who, , following the Western lines, would ally them- 
selves with imperialist politics in order to protect their 
vested interests. Capitalism, centralized government, 
militarism, protection, and a whole chain of public regula- 
tions to preserve the new order against the rising of old 
conservative traditional forces — such would be the inevitable 
outcome. The changes of external environment which 
have come with dangerous rapidity on Europe during the 
nineteenth century, forced still more rapidly on China by 
foreign profit-seekers, would produce reactions of incalculable 
peril upon the national life and character. 

It would seem to imply no less than the des<.ruction of 
the existing civilization of China and the substitution in its 
place of what ? There has been no serious pretence that 
European nations can impose or inculcate the essentials of 
their civilization on China. The psychology of the Chinese 
is a- terra incognita : the most experienced European resi- 
dents are those who are the frankest in declaring their 
inability to grapple with the mysteries of Chinese character 
and Chinese morality ; where less discreet writers venture 
on generalizations, their pages are riddled with the wildest 
contradictions and inconsistencies. What is, however, 
pretty clear is this : the Chinaman who detaches himself 
from the family bond and its moral associations and adopts 
European manners is distrusted alike by his fellow-country- 



men and by his new patrons ; Christianity makes no way 
among respectable ” Chinese, the educated classes pre- 
senting no ground of appeal for any form of supernaturalism ; 
though Western science may hope in time to make a 
legitimate impression upon the intellectual life of China, 
the process will be one of slow absorption from within 
and cannot be imposed by alien instruction from without. 

That the squabbles of European potentates for territorial 
expansion, the lusts of merchants (Jt financiers, the 
ludicrously false expectations of mission arits, the catch- 
words of political parties in European elections, should be 
driving European nations to destroy the civilization of a 
quarter of the human race without possessing the ability or 
even recognizing the need to provide a substitute, ought 
surely to give* pause to those Imperialists who claim to 
base their policy on reason and the common good. 

No thinking man can seriously question the immense 
importance of free intercourse between the West and the 
East, or doubt the gain that would accrue to the civilization 
• of the world by a wise communication to the Eastern mind 
of those !irts which peculiarly represent Western civilization, 
the laborious, successful study of the physical sciences and 
their application to the arts of industry, the systematic 
development of certain definite principles and practices of 
law and government, and the thought and literature which 
are^ the conscious flowering of this growth of practical 

That Europe could in this way render an invaluable 
service to Asia is certain. 

“ Some strange fiat of arrest, probably due to mental 
exhaustion, has condemned the brown men and the yellow 
men to eternal reproduction of old ideas. To revivify the 
mind of Asia, to set it working again along new lines of rich 

* Asia and Europe^ p. 9. 


imperialism: a study 

productivity, this might be the boon of Europe. And for 
this service she too might take a rich reward. The brooding 
mind of Asia gave to sluggish Europe in past ages the great 
momenta in religion and philosophy and in the mathe- 
matics ; even in its sleep, or what appears to us the sleep of 
many centuries, it may have had its noble and illuminative 
dreams. The reason of the West may yet need the insight 
of the East. A union so profitable in the past may not 
be barren for the future. It is the right condition of this 
wholesome intercourse wliich is of supreme importance to 
the cause of civilization. Now one thing at least is certain. 
Force and the pushf.jl hand of material greed inhibit the 
free interaction of mind and mind essential to this inter- 
course. The ancient civilizations of India and China, whose 
duration bears testimony to inherent qualiti^ of worth, 
have not been directed chiefly to the attainment of progress 
in the arts of material wealth, though the simpler industries 
havejin parts of China and India attained a high perfection, 
but rather to the maintenance of certain small types of 
orderly social life, with a strong hierarchy of social and 
industrial ranks in India, with a fundamentally d&'mocratic 
character in China. 

The energy spared from political and industrial struggles, 
and in China from military practises, has gone, partly to the 
cultivation of certain simple qualities of domestic life and 
personal conduct, partly to the wide diffusion of a certain 
real life of the soul, animated by profound religious and 
philosophic speculations and contemplations in India, or 
by the elaboration of a more practical, utilitarian wisdom 
in China. These Eastern civilizations alone have stood the 
test of time ; the qualities which have enabled them to 
survive ought surely to be matter of deep concern for the 
mushroom civilizations of*" the West. It may even be true 
that the maintenance of these younger and more unstable 



civilizations depends upon unlocking the treasure-house of 
the wisdom of the East. Whether this be so or not, the 
violent breaking down of the characteristic institutions of 
Asia to satisfy some hasty lust of commerce, or some greed 
of power, is quite the most fatally blind misreading of the 
true process of world-civilization that it is possible to 
conceive. For Europe to rule Asia by force for purposes 
of gain, and to justify that rule by the pretence that she 
is civilizing Asia and raising her to a higher level of spiritual 
life, will be adjudged by history, perhaps, to be the 
crowning wrong and folly of Imperialism. What Asia has 
to give, her priceless stores of wisddm garnered from her 
experience of ages, we refuse to take ; the much or little 
which we could give we spoil by the brutal manner of our 
giving. This is what Imperialism has done, and is doing, 
for Asia. 





T he imperial policy of Great Britain after 1870, and 
more particul?wly after 1885, was almost entirely 
absorbed in promoting the subjugation and annexation of 
tracts of territory where no genuine white settlement of any 
magnitude was contemplated. This policy, ras we have 
seen, differs essentially from colonization ; and from the 
standpoint of government it implies a progressive diminution 
of freedom in the British Empire by constantly increasing 
the proportion of its subjects who are destitute of real power 
of self-government. 

It is important to consider how this new Imjperialism 
reacts, and is likely in the future to react, upon the 
relations between Great Britain and her self-governing 
colonies. Will it stimulate these colonies to an assertion 
of growing independence and final formal severance from 
the mother country, or will it lead them to form a closer 
political union with her upon a basis, no longer of Empire, 
but of a Federation of equal States ? This is a vital issue, 
for it is quite certain that the present^ relations will not be 

Hitherto the tendency has been towards a steady con- 
sistent increase of self-government, and a growing relaxation 
of Empire in the shape of control exercised by the 




home Government. In Australasia, North America, and 
South Africa seventeen self-governing colonies have been 
established, endowed with reduced types of the British 
constitution. In the case of Australia and of Canada 
the growth of self-government has been formally and 
actually advanced by acts of federation, which have, in 
fact, especially in Australia, compensated the restriction 
of the power of the federated States bv a more than 
equivalent increase of governing power vested in the federal 

Great Britain has in the main learned well the lesson of 
the American Revolution ; she has not* only permitted but 
favoured this growing independence of her Australian and 
American colonies. During the very period when she has 
been occupied in the conscious policy of extending her 
Empire over lands which she cannot colonize and must hold 
by force, she has been loosening her “ imperial ” hold over 
her white colonies. While 1873 removed the last bond of 
^economic control which marked the old “ plantation ” 
policy, bytrepealing the Act of 1850 which had forbidden 
Australian colonies from imposing differential duties as 
between the colonies and foreign countries, and permitting 
them in future to tax one another’s goods, the Australian 
Commonwealth Act of 1900 has, by the powers accorded 
to its Federal Judicature, reduced to the narrowest limits 
yet attained the constitutional control of the Privy Council, 
and has by the powers enabling the Federal Government 
to raise a central armed force for defence obtained a new 
substantial basis for a possible national independence in the 
future. Though it is unlikely for some time to come that 
the federal Government which is contemplated for British 
South Africa will be accorded po'/ers equivalent to those 
of the Australian or even the Canadian Federations, the 
same tendency to increase self-government has in the past 


imperialism: a study 

steadily prevailed in Cape Colony and Natal, and it is 
tolerably certain that, if the racial animosities between the 
two white races are abated, a South African Commonwealth 
would soon be found in possession of a far larger measure 
of real self-government than the British colonies which enter 
it have hitherto possessed.^ 

But while the trend of British colonialism has uniformly 
been towards increased self-government or practical inde- 
pendence, and has been appreciably strengthened by the 
process of federating colonial States, it is evi 4 ent that the 
imperial statesmen who have favoured most this federa- 
tion policy have had in view some larger recasting of the 
political relations with the mother country, which should 
bind parent and children in closer family bonds, not merely 
of affection or of trading intercourse, but o{ political associa- 
tion. Though imperial federation for British purposes is 
no modern invention, Lord Carnarvon was the first Colonial 
Secretary to set it before him as a distinct object of attain- 
ment, favouring federation in the various groups of colonics 
as the first step in a process which should federate the 
Empire. The successful completion in 1873 of the process 
of federation which formed the Dominion of Canada doubt- 
less stimulated Lord Carnarvon, entering office the next 
year, to further experiments along similar lines. Unfor- 
tunately he laid hands upon South Africa for his forcing 
process, and suffered a disastrous failure. Twenty years 
later Mr. -Chamberlain resumed the task, and, confronted 
by the same essential difficulties, the forcible annexation 
of the two Dutch Republics, and the coercion of Cape 
Colony, carried his federation policy in South Africa on 
the road towards completion, while the establishment of 
the Australian Commonrvealth marks another and a safer 
triumph of the federation principle. 

^ Thst relates to the situation in 1903. 



The process of federation, as bearing on the relations 
of the federating colonies, is of course a triumph for the 
centripetal fprces ; but, by securing a larger measure of 
theoretical and practical independence for the federal 
Governments, it has been centrifugal from the standpoint 
of the Imperial Government. The work of securing an 
effective political imperial federation implies, therefore, 
a reversal of hitherto dominant tendencies. 

It is quite evident that a strong and increasing desire 
for imperial federation ^vas growing among a*^ large number 
of British politicians. So far as Mr. Chamberlain and 
some of his friends were concerned,* it dates back to the 
beginning of the struggle over Mr. Gladstone’s Home 
Rule for Ireland policy. Speaking on Mr. Gladstone’s 
Home Rule Bilfin 1886, Mr. Chamberlain said : “ I should 
look for the solution in the direction of the principle of 
federation. My right honourable friend has looked for 
his model to the relations between this country and her 
self-governing and practically independent colonies. I 
think thaj is of doubtful expediency. The present connexion 
between our colonies ard ourselves is no doubt very strong, 
owing to the affection which exists between members of 
the same nation. But it is a sentimental tie, and a senti- 
mental tie only. ... It appears to me that the advantage 
of a system of federation is that Ireland might under it 
really remain an integral part of the Empire. The 
action of such a scheme is centripetal •and not centri- 
fugal, and it is in the direction of federation that the 
democratic movement has made most advances in the 
present century.” 

Now, it is quite true that the democratic movement, 
both now and in the future, seems closely linked with the 
formation of federal States, and the federation of the 
parts of the British Empire appears to suggest, as a next 


imperialism: a study 

step and logical outcome, the federation of the whole. 

Holding, as we must, that any reasonable security for 
good order and civilization in the world implies the growing 
application of the federation principle in international 
politics, it will appear only natural that the earlier steps 
in such a process should take the form of unions of States 
most closely related by ties of common blood, language, 
and institutions, and that a phase of federated Britain or 
Anglo- Saxondpm, Pan-Tcutonism, Pan-Slavism, and Pan- 
Latinism might supervene upon the phase already reached. 
There is perhaps a suspicion of exce^ssive logic in such an 
order of events, but a broad general view of history renders 
it plausible and desirable enough. Christendom thus laid 
out in a few great federal Empires, each with a retinue of 
uncivilized dependencies, seems to many the most legitimate 
development of present tendencies and one which would 
offer the best hope of permanent peace on an assured basis of 
inter-imperialism. Dismissing fron^.our mind the largest 
aspect of this issue, as too distant for present profitable 
argument, and confining our attention to Britislvamperial 
federation, we may easily agree that a voluntary federation 
of free British States, working peacefully for the common 
safety and prosperity, is in itself eminently desirable, and 
might indeed form a step towards a wider federation of 
civilized States in the future. 

The real issue for discussion is the feasibility of such a 
policy, and, rightly stated, the question runs thus : “ What 
forces of present or prospective self-interest are operative 
to induce Great Britain and her colonial groups to reverse 
the centrifugal process which has hitherto been dominant ? ” 
Now, there are many reasons for Great Britain to desire 
political federation with <her self-governing colonies, even 
upon terms which would give them a voice proportionate 
to their population in a Parliament or other council charged 

33 ^ 


with the control of imperial affairs, provided the grace 
difficulties involved in the establishment of such a repre- 
sentative, responsible, governing body could be overcome. 
The preponderance of British over colonial population 
would enable the mother country to enforce her will where 
any conflict of interest or judgment arose in which there 
was a sharj line of division between Great Britain and the 
colonies : the distribution of imperial burdens and the 
allocation of imperial assistance would be determined by 
Great Britain. If the Crown colonies and ot&er non-self- 
governing parts of the Empire were represented in the 
imperial council, the actual supremacy of the mother 
country would be greater still, for these representatives, 
either nominated by the Crown (the course most consonant 
with Crown colony government), or elected on a narrow 
franchise of a small white oligarchy, would have little in 
common with the representatives of self-governing colonies, 
and would inevitably be more amenable to pressure from 
the home Government. A chief avowed object of imperial 
lederation ^s to secure from the colonies a fair share of 
men, ships, and moneys for imperial defence, and for 
those expansive exploits which in their initiation almost 
always rank as measures of defence. The financial basis 
of imperial defence in 1903 is one which, on the face of 
it, seems most unfair ; Great Britain is called upon to 
support virtually the whole cost of the imperial navy, 
and, with India, almost the whole cost of the imperial 
army, though both these arms are at the service of any 
of our self-governing colonies that is threatened by external 
enemies or internal disorders. In 1899, while the popula- 
tion of these colonies was close upon one-third of that of 
the United Kingdom, their revenue/ nearly one-half, and the 
value of their sea-borne commerce one-fifth of the entire 
commerce of the Empire, the contribution they were 


imperialism: a study 

making to the cost of the naval defence of the Empire was 
less than one-hundredth part.^ These colonies raised in 
1903 no regular or irregular military force available for the 
general defence of the Empire, though they have supported 
small contingents of imperial troops quartered upon them 
by the Imperial Government, and have maintained 
considerable militia and volunteer forces for home defence. 
The colonial contingents taking part in the South African 
war, though forming at considerable volunteer force, fell 
far short 0/ an imperial levy based upon proportion of 
population, and their expenses were almost entirely borne 
by the United Kiftgdom. From the standpoint of the 
unity of the British Empire, in which the colonies are 
presumed to have an interest equivalent to that of the 
United Kingdom, it seems reasonable that the latter should 
be called upon to bear their fair share of the burden of 
imperial defence ; and an imperial federation which was 
a political reality would certainly imply a provision for such 
equal contribution. Whatever were the form such federa- 
tion took, that of an Imperial Parliament, enc^owed with 
full responsibility for imperial affairs under the Crown, or 
of an Imperial Council, on which colonial representatives 
must sit to consult with and advise the British ministry, 
who still retained the formal determination of imperial 
policy, it would certainly imply a compulsory or quasi- 
compulsory contribution on the part of the colonies 
proportionate to that of the United Kingdom. 







United “X 

Kingdom j 
ing Colonies J 

39.000. 000 

12.000. 000 



,^766,000, 000 






Now it IS quite evident that the self-governing colonics 
will not enter such an association, involving them in large 
new expenses, out of sentimental regard for the British 
Empire. The genuineness and the warmness of the attach- 
ment to the British Empire and to the mother country 
are indisputable, and though they were not called upon 
to make any considerable self-sacrifice in the South African 
campaign, %t is quite evident that their sentiments are such 
as would lead them voluntarily to expend* both blood and 
money where they thought the existence, the safety, or 
even the honour of the Empire was at stake. But it would 
be a grave error to suppose that the idaze of enthusiastic 
loyalty evinced at such a period of emergency can be 
utilized in order to reverse the general tendency towards 
independence, aiid to rush ” the self-governing colonies 
into a closer formal union with Great Britain, involving 
a regular continuous sacrifice. If the colonics are induced 
to enter any such association, they must be convinced that 
it is essential to their individual security and prosperity. 
•In 1903 they get the protection of the Empire with out 
paying for It ; as long as they think they can get adequate 
protection on such terms it is impossible to suppose they 
would enter an arrangement which required them to pay, 
and which involved an entire recasting of their system of 
revenue. The temper of discussions in the Australian 
and Canadian Parliaments, amid all the enthusiasm of the 
South African war, makes it quite clear tj;iat no colonial 
ministry could in time of peace persuade the colonists to 
enter such a federation as is here outlined unless they had been 
educated to the conviction that their individual colonial 
welfare was to be subserved. Either Australia and Canada 
must be convinced that imperial defence of Australia or 
Canada upon the present^ basis is becoming more inadequate, 



imperialism: a study 

and that such defence is essential to them, or else they must 
be compensated for the additional expense which federation 
would involve by new commercial relations with the United 
Kingdom which will give them a more profitable market 
than they possess already. 

Now the refusal of the self-governing colonies hitherto 
to consider any other contribution to imperial defence than 
a small voluntary one has been based upon a« conviction 
that the virtud independence they hold under Great 
Britain is net likely to be threatened by any great Power, 
and that, even were it threatened, though their commerce 
might suffer on the«/^ea, they would be competent to prevent 
or repel invasion by their own internal powers of self-defence. 
The one exception to this calculation may be said to prove 
the rule. If Canada were embroiled in war with her great 
republican neighbour, she is well aware that though the 
British navy might damage the trade and the coast towns of 
the United States, she could not prevent Canada from 
being over-run by American troops, and ultimately from 
being subjugated. 

But, it may at least be urged, the importance of main- 
taining a British navy adequate to protect their trade will 
at least be recognized ; the colonies will perceive that in 
face of the rising wealth and naval preparations of rival 
Empires, in particular Germany, France, and the United 
States, the United Kingdom cannot bear the financial 
strain of the necessary increase of ships without substantial 
colonial assistance. This is doubtless the line of strongest 
pressure for imperial federation. How far is it likely to 
prove effective ? It is certain to educate colonial politicians 
to a closer consideration of the future of their colony ; 
it will force them to canvass most carefully the net 
advantages or disadvantages of the imperial connexion. 
Such consideration seems at least as likely to lead them 



towards that definite future severance from Great Britain 
which, until now, in 1903, none of them has seriously 
contemplated, as it is to bring them into a federation. 
This consummation, if it ultimately comes about, will 
arise from no abatement of natural good feeling and affection 
towards the United Kingdom, but simply from a conflict 
of interests. 

If the ^movement towards imperial federation fails, and 
the recent drift towards independence cvi the part of the 
self-governing colonies is replaced by a laore conscious 
movement in the same direction, the cause will be Im- 
perialism. A discreet colonial statesman, when invited to 
bring his colony closer to Great Britain, and to pay for 
their common support while leaving to Great Britain the 
virtual determination of their common destiny, is likely to 
put the following pertinent questions ; Why is Great Britain 
obliged to increase her expenditure in armaments faster 
than the growth of trade or income, so that she is forced to 
call upon us to assist f Is it because she fears the jealousy 
and the hostility of other Powers ? Why does she arouse 
these ill # feelings ? To these questions he can hardly 
fail to find an answer ? “ It is the new Imperialism 

that is wholly responsible for the new perils of the Empire, 
and for the new costs of armaments,” He is then likely 
to base upon this answer further questions. Do we self- 
governing colonies benefit by this new Imperialism ? If 
we decide that we do not, can we stop it by entering a 
federation in which our voices will be the voices of a small 
minority ? ^ Uv it not be a safer policy for us to seek 

severance froiu a Power which so visibly antagonizes other 
Powers, and may involve us in conflict with them on 
matters in which we have no vital interest and no deter- 
minant voice, and either to live an independent political life, 
incurring only those risks which belong to us, or (in the case 


imperialism: a study 

of Canada) to seek admission within the powerful republic 
of the United States ? 

However colonial history may answer these questions, it 
is inevitable that they will be put. Imperialism is evidently 
the most serious obstacle to imperial federation,” so far 
as the self-governing colonies are concerned. Were it not 
for the presence of these unfree British possessions and for 
the expansive policy which has continually incre^ed them, 
a federation of free British States throughout the world 
would seem ? reasonable and a most desirable step in the 
interests of world-civilization. But how can the white 
democracies of Austr^Jasia and North America desire to enter 
such a hodge-podge of contradictory systems as would be 
presented by an imperial federation, which might, according 
to one authority,^ be compiled in the fcjlowing fashion ; 
first a union of Great Britain, Ireland, Canada, West Indies, 
Australia, Tasmania, New Zealand, Newfoundland, Mauri- 
tius, South Africa, Malta, to be followed later by the 
admission of Cyprus, Ceylon, India, Hong- Kong, and 
Malaysia, with an accompaniment of semi-independent 
States such as Egypt, Afghanistan, Natal, Bhutan, }chore, and 
perhaps the kingdoms of Uganda and of Barotse, each with 
some sort of representation on an Imperial Council and some 
voice in, the determination of the imperial destiny ? 

Is it likely that the great rising Australian Common- 
wealth or the Dominion of Canada will care to place her 
peaceful development and her financial resources at the 
mercy of some Soudanese forward movement or a pushful 
policy in West Africa ? 

An imperial federation comprising all sorts and con^ 
ditions of British States, colonies, protectorates, veiled 
protectorates and nondescripts would be too unwieldy, 
and too prolific of frontier questions and of other hazards, 

^ Sir H. H. Johniton, Nintteentb Century, May 1902. 



to please our more isolated and self-centred free colonies ; 
while, if these former were left without formal representation 
as special proteges of the United Kingdom, their existence 
and their growth would none the less hang like a mill-stone 
round the neck of the federal Government, constantly 
compelling the United Kingdom to strain the allegiance 
of her confederates by using her technical superiority of 
voting pdwer in what she held to be their special interest 
and hers, ^ ‘ 

The notion that the absence of any real Strong identity 
of interest between the self-governing colonies and the 
more remote and more hazardous fringes of the Empire 
can be compensated by some general spirit of loyalty 
towards and pride in the Empire ” is a delusion which 
will speedily be dispelled. The detached colonies of 
Australasia may not unreasonably argue that the very 
anxiety of British statesmen to draw them into federation 
is a confession of the weakening of that very protection 
which constitutes for them the chief value of the present 
connexion, The United Kingdom,” they may say, 
asks us \o supply meq and ships and money in a binding 
engagement in order to support her in carrying farther 
the very imperialist policy which arouses the animosity 
of rival Powers and which disables her for future reliance 
on her own resources to sustain the Empire. For our 
increased contribution to the imperial resources we shall 
therefore receive in return an increase of peril. Is it not 
something like asking us, out of pure chivalry, to throw 
in our lot with a sinking vessel i ” It will doubtless be 
replied that a firmly federated Empire will prove such a 
tower of strength as will enable her to defy the increased 
jealousy of rival Powers. But this tempting proposition 
will be submitted to cool calculation in our colonies, which 
will certainly refuse to be ** rushed ” into a change of 



imperialism: a study 

policy implying a reversal of the general tendency of half a 
century. Admitting the obvious political and military gain 
of co-operative action in the face of an enemy, the colonists 
will ask whether this gain is not offset by an increased 
likelihood of having to face enemies, and when they reflect 
that they are really invited to federate, not merely with 
the England whom they love and admire, but with an 
ever-growing medley of savage States, the Ifalance of 
judgment seems “likely ^to turn against federation, unless 
other special inducements can be applied. 


There are two special inducements wKch, might bring 
the self-governing colonies, or some of them, to favour a 
closer political union with Great Britain. The first is a 
revision of the commercial and financial policy of the 
mother country, so as to secure for the colonies an increased 
market for their produce in Great Britain and in other * 
parts of the British Empire. In discussion of** this issue 
it is customary to begin by distinguishing the proposal 
to establish an Imperial Zollverein, or Customs Union, 
from the proposal for a preferential tariff. But very little 
reflection suffices to perceive the futility of the former with- 
out the latter as an appeal to the self-interest of the colonies. 
Will these colonies assimilate their financial policy to that 
of Great Britain, abolishing their protective tariffs and 
entering a full Free Trade career ? The most sanguine 
Free Trader suggests no such possibility, nor indeed would, 
such a course afford any real guarantee of increasing the 
commercial inter-dependence of the Empire. It would 
simply force the colonies upon processes of direct taxation 
repugnant to their feelings. Is Free Trade within the 

34 ^ 


Empire, with a maintenance of the status quo as regards 
foreign countries, really more feasible? It would simply 
mean that the colonies gave up the income they obtained 
from taxing the goods of one another and of Great Britain, 
each getting in return a remission of tariffs fr9m the other 
colonies with which its trade is small and no remission from 
Great Britain, which would continue to receive its goods 
free as before. 

It is now admitted that the colonies will not, and indeed 
cannot remit or greatly reduce their taxes upon imported 
goods from Great Britain and from one another. They 
are prepared to give British goods a preferential treatment 
upon two conditions : first, that such preference does not 
involve any net reduction of their income from customs ; 
secondly, that it does not make British goods to compete 
more effectively with their own manufactures. A prefer- 
ential tariff constructed under these conditions implies 
that any net reductions of the duty upon classes of British 
imports must be compensated by a general rise of the tariff 
in regard Jto other imports, and that where British imports 
compete with colonial products there can be no reduction 
of the duty, but only an increased tax in foreign as compared 
with British goods. 

If it does not cost anything to the exchequer of the 
Dominion and the Commonwealth, or considerably raise 
prices to colonial consumers, Canada and Australia are 
willing to oust foreign goods in favour of'British, but the 
tendency will be to do this by raising the duty against 
foreigners, and not by lowering it against Great Britain. 
Moreover, the nature of British imports into these countries 
(i.e. highly manufactured goods) generally involves some 
amount of competition with home products, so that any 
actual reduction of duty is inconsistent with protection of 
home industries. Thus the principles of Canadian protection 


imperialism: a study 

oblige her to maintain a higher average duty upon British 
goods than upon American and other foreign goods, many 
of which are raw materials or semi-manufactured goods 
which do not compete appreciably with Canadian products. 
Thus, though the preferences given by Canada to the 
mother country in 1897 and 1900 have checked the rapid 
decline in the growth of British as compared with foreign 
imports into Canada, they have not prevented foreign 
trade from increasing at a slightly faster pace than British, 
while the im|)ortation (largely of free raw materials) from 
the United States continues to grow faster than the 
importation from Gxeat Britain. Moreover, the powerful 
organized opposition of Canadian manufacturers against 
favoured British competition is a factor of increasing 
importance now that Canada is putting &ore of her own 
and American capital into manufacturing industry. The 
tendency will be more and more towards an encouragement 
of Canadian manufactures by higher duties upon imports, 
so that a show of British preference can only be maintained 
by a general raising of duties on imported ma,nufactures. 
What holds of Canada holds also of Australia. Both 
nations look forward to a great manufacturing future which 
will give them that self-sufficing character which is the 
protectionist ideal ; more and more will their desire to 
favour the mother country conflict with their higher sense 
of duty towards their own manufactures. The notion 
that they will abstain from setting up any manufacture 
which they can successfully establish out of consideration 
for the English manufacturers who have hitherto supplied 
these goods is puerile. These being the conditions, such 
preferences as they give to British imports must be slight 
and temporary. 

To purchase this small boon, Great Britain must give in 
return preferential treatment involving, first, a reversal 



of our Free Trade policy; secondly, taxes upon foreign 
food and raw materials. Grain and flour, cattle and meat, 
wool, timber, and iron would form the chief commodities 
which, in the supposed interests of our colonies, would be 
taxed first. Unless this preference raised prices it could 
have no effect in enabling colonial producers to displace 
foreign producers : the tariff, to be operative at all> must 
remove aU profit from some portion of foreign goods pre- 
viously imported, and, by preventing p.uch goods from 
entering our markets in the future, ^reduce th^ total supply : 
this reduction of supply acts of necessity in raising the 
price for the whole market. This well^recognized automatic 
operation of the law of supply and demand makes it certain 
that English consumers would pay in enhanced prices a 
new tax, part oi which would be handed over to colonists 
in payment for their new ‘‘ loyalty,” part would go to the 
British exchequer, part to defray expenses of collection, and 
the rest in enhanced rent to British landowners. 

Nor is this all, or perhaps the worst. By this very 
» method of binding our colonies closer to us we take the 
surest wiy of increasing the resentment of those very 
nations whose political and military rivalry impels us to 
abandon Free Trade. The vast and increasing trade we"^ 
have with France, Germany, Russia, and the United States 
is the most potent guarantee of peace which we possess. 
Reduce the volume and the value of our commerce with 
these nations, by means of the re-establishment of a tariff 
avowedly erected for the purpose, and we should convert the 
substantial goodwill of the powerful financial, mercantile, 
and manufacturing interests in these countries into active 
and dangerous hostility. It would be far better for us 
that we had never been a Free Trade country than that we 
relapsed into a protective system motived by the desire to 
weaken our commercial bonds with the political and com- 


imperialism: a study 

mercial Powers whose rivalry we have most to fear. By the 
statistics of an earlier chapter^ it has been shown that not 
merely is our trade with these foreign nations far greater 
than the trade with the self-governing colonies, but that it 
is growing at a faster rate. To offend and antagonize our 
better customers in order to conciliate our worse is bad 
economy and much worse politics. 

The shrewder politicians in our colonies might, surely be 
expected to look ^uch a gift-horse in the mouth. For the 
very bribe which is designed to win them for federation is 
one which enhances for them enormously and quite incal- 
culably the perils of ^a new connexion by which they throw 
in their lot irrevocably with that of Great Britain. A 
monopoly of the imperial market for their exports may be 
bought too dear, if it removes the strongest .pledge for peace 
which England possesses, at a time when that pledge is 
needed most. Nor would these colonies share only the 
new peril of England ; their own discriminative tariffs 
would breed direct ill-feeling against them on the part of 
foreigners, and would drag them into the vortex of European 
politics. Finally, by distorting the more natupul process 
of commercial selection, which,* under tariffs equally 
imposed, has in the past been increasing the proportion of 
the trade done by these colonies with foreign countries, 
and reducing the proportion done with Great Britain, we 
shall be forcing them to substitute a worse for a better trade, 
a course by which they will be heavy losers in the long run. 


In face of such facts it will be impossible for Great Britain 
to offer the self-governing colonies a sufficient commercial 

' Cf , Part I, chap. ii. 



inducement to bring them into imperial federation. Is 
there any other possible inducement or temptation ? There . 
is, I think, one, viz., to involve them on their own account 
in Imperialism, by encouraging and aiding them in a policy 
of annexation and the government of lower races. Inde- 
pendently of the centralized Imperialism which issues from 
Great Britian, these colonies have within themselves in 
greater ocjess force all the ingredients out of which an 
Imperialism of their own may be formed*^ The same con- 
spiracy of powerful speculators, ‘marufacturing interests 
and ambitious politicians, calling to their support the 
philanthropy of missions and the lus^ for adventure which 
is so powerful in the new world, may plot the subversion of 
honest, self-developing democracy, in order to establish 
class rule, and to employ the colonial resources in showy 
enterprises of expansion for their own political and com- 
mercial ends. 

Such a spirit and such a purpose was plainly operative 
in South Africa for many years. That which appears to us 
as an achievement of British Imperialism, viz., the acquisition 
of the t\fo Dutch Republics and the great North, is and 
always has appeared something quite different to a powerful 
group of business politicians in South Africa, These men 
at the Cape, in the Transvaal and in Rhodesia, British or 
Dutch, have fostered a South African Imperialism, not 
opposed to British Imperialism, willing when necessary to 
utilize it, but independent of it in ultimate aims and purposes. 
This was the policy of “ colonialism ’’ which Mr. Rhodes 
espoused so vehemently in his earlier political career, seeking 
the control of Bechuanaland and the North for Cape Colony 
and not directly for the Empire. This has been right 
through the policy of an active section of the Africander 
Bond, developing on a large scale the original “ trek ” habit 
of the Dutch. This was the policy to which Sir Hercules 


imperialism: a study 

Robinson gave voice in his famous declaration of 1889 
regarding Imperialism : It is a diminishing quantity, 

there being now no longer any permanent place in the 
future of South Africa for direct imperial rule on any large 
scale.” A distinctively colonial or South African expansion 
was the policy of the politicians, financiers, and adventurers 
up to the failure of the Jameson Raid ; reluctantly they 
sought the co-operation of British Imperialism to raid them 
in a definite work for which they were too weak, the seizure 
of the Transyaal minei'kl estates ; their absorbing aim 
hereafter will be to relegate British Imperialism to what 
they conceive to be i;:s proper place, that of an ultima ratio 
to stand in the far background while colonial Imperialism 
manages the business and takes the profits. A South 
African federation of self-governing States r will demand a 
political career of its own, and will insist upon its own 
brand of empire, not that of the British Government, in 
the control of the lower races in South Africa. 

Such a federal State will not only develop an internal » 
policy regarding the native territories different from, 
perhaps antagonistic to, that of British Imperialism, but 
its position as the “ predominant ” State of South Africa 
will develop an ambition and a destiny of expansion which 
may bring it into world politics on its own account. 

Australasia similarly shows signs of an Imperialism of 
her own. She has recently taken over New Guinea, and 
some of her sons are hankering after a “ Monroe doctrine ” 
applicable throughout the South Pacific, the opening step 
of which would consist of the assignation of our Pacific 
Islands to Australia and New Zealand for administrative, 
purposes. “ The same principle,” it is suggested, ** is 
applicable to the connexion between Canada and the British 
West Indies. Economically the latter are important to 
Canada, as furnishing a tropical market of the Idnd which 



the United States possess within their own borders, and 
also in their newly acquired dependencies. Strategically,^ 
also, the islands are becoming important to Canada as a base 
for the protection of her growing interests, especially in 
connexion with the Panama Canal, so that here the privilege 
of administration would enforce the sense of responsibility 
for naval defence.”^ 

If GreaiC Britain is prepared to guarantee to Australasia, 
Canada and South Africa a special impepial career of their 
own, placing the entire federal resources of <he Empire at 
the disposal of the colonial federal States, to assist them 
in fulfilling an ambition or a destiny y^^hich is directed and 
determined by their particular interests and will, such a 
decentralization of Imperialism might win the colonies to 
a closer federal union with the mother country. For 
Great Britain herself it would involve great and obvious 
dangers, and some considerable sacrifice of central imperial 
power; but it might win the favour and support of am- 
bitious colonial politicians and capitalists desirous to run 
► a profitable Imperialism of their own and to divert the 
democratit forces from domestic agitation into foreign 

If Australasia can get from Great Britain the services 
of an adequate naval power to enforce her growing “ Monroe 
doctrine ” in the Pacific without paying for it, as British 
South Africa has obtained the services of our land forces, 
she will not be likely to enter closer formal bonds which 
will bind her to any large financial contribution towards 
the expenses of such a policy. But if Great Britain were 
willing to organize imperial federation upon a basis which 
in reality assigned larger independence to Australia and 
Canada than they have at present, by giving them a call 
upon the imperial resources for their own private imperial 

^CtlanUl Natmuium, bf Richard Jebb, pp. 306-7. 


imperialism: a study 

career in excess of their contribution towards the common 
purse, business instincts might lead them to consider 
favourably such a proposal. 

How fraught with peril to this country such imperial 
federation would be it is unnecessary to prove. Centralized 
Imperialism, in which the Government of Great Britain 
formally reserves full control over the external policy of 
each colony, and actually exercises this control, aiiords some 
considerable security against the danger of being dragged 
into quarrels wth othef great Powers : the decentralized 
Imperialism, involved in imperial federation, would lose 
us this security. r^The nascent local Imperialism of 
Australasia, Canada and South Africa woulcl be fed by the 
consciousness that it could not be checked or overruled 
in its expansive policy as it is now ; and the somewhat 
blatant energy of self-expression in the Australasian Govern- 
ments would be likely to entangle us continually with 
Germany, Japan and the United States in the Pacific, 
while Canada and Newfoundland would possess a greatly 
enhanced power to embroil us with France and the United 
States. If it be urged that after all no serioi:^ steps in 
Australian, Canadian or South African Imperialism ** 
could be taken without the direct conscious consent of 
Great Britain, who would, by virtue of population and 
prestige, remain the predominant partner, the answer is 
that the very strengthening of the imperial bond would 
give increased efficacy to all the operative factors in Im- 
perialism. Even as matters stand now there exists in Great 
Britain a powerful organized business interest which is 
continually inciting the Imperial Government to a pushful 
policy on behalf of our colonies : these colonies, the 
Australasian in particular, are heavily mortgaged in their 
land and trade to British' financial companies ; their mines, 
banks, and other important commercial assets are largely 



owned in Great Britain ; their enormous public debts^ 
are chiefly held in Great Britain. It is quite evident that 
the classes in this country owning these colonial properties 
have a stake in colonial politics, different from and in some 
cases antagonistic to that of the British nation as a whole : 
it is equally evident that they can exercise an organized 
pressure upon the British Government in favour of their 
private interests that will be endowed with enhanced 
efficacy under the more equal conditions of an imperial 
federation. * ^ 

Whether the bribe of a preferential tariff, or of a delegated 
Imperialism, or both, would suffice, to bring the self- 
governing colonies into a closer formal political federation 
with Great Britain may, however, well be doubted. Still 
more doubtful v^uld be their permanent continuance in such 
a federation.* It is at least conceivable that the colonial 
democracies may be strong and sane enough to resist 
temptation to colonial Imperialism, when they perceive the 
dangerous reaction of such a course. Even were they 
induced to avail themselves of the ample resources of the 
Empire tt forward their local imperial policy, they would, 
in Australia as in South Africa, be disposed to break away 
from such a federation when they had got out of it what 
advantages it could be made to yield, and they felt strong 
enough for an independent Empire of their own. 

It is no cynical insistence upon the dominance of selfish 

^ In 1900 the public debts of the Australasian colonial Governments amounted 
to ^194,812,289, for a population of 3,756,894 ; while the New Zealand debt was 
,£46,930,077 for a population of 756,510 Statesman* s Tear Book^ 1901). 

New South Wales 
South Australia 
West Australia 









imperialism: a study 

interests which leads us to the conviction that the historic 
drift towards independence will not be reversed by any 
sentiments of attachment towards Great Britain. ‘‘ My 
hold of the colonies,” wrote Burke, “ is the dose affection 
which grows from common names, from kindred blood, 
from similar privileges, and equal protection. These arc 
ties which, though light as air, are as strong as links of 
iron.”^ But in these ties, save the last only,c there is 
nothing to demand or to ensure political union. The moral 
bonds of community of language, history and institutions, 
maintained and strengthened by free social and commercial 
intercourse, this true union of hearts, have not been 
weakened by the progress towards political freedom which 
has been taking place in the past, and will not be weakened 
if this progress should continue until absolute political 
independence from Great Britain is achieved. 

It is quite certain that the issue must be determined in 
the long run by what the colonies consider to be their policy 
of net utility. That utility will be determined primarily 
by the more permanent geographical and economic 
conditions. These have tended in the past, so fir as they 
have had free play, towards political independence : they 
will have a freer play in the future, and it seems, therefore, 
unlikely that their tendency will be reversed. Though 
the element of distance between the parts of an Empire 
is now less important than formerly as a technical difficulty 
in representation^ the following pithy summary of American 
objections to schemes of imperial federation in the 
eighteenth century, as recorded by Pownall, still has 
powerful application : — 

“ The Americans also thought that legislative union 
would be unnecessary, inexpedient, and dangerous, because — 

** (i) They had already sufficient legislatures of their own. 

^ Comciliation teith America, 



** (2) If the colonies were so united to England they 
would share the burden of British taxes and debt. t 
“ (3) Representatives in England would be too far from 
their constituents, and the will of the colonies would, 
therefore, be transferred out of their power, and involved 
in that of a majority in which the proportion of their 
representatives would hold no balance.”^ 

While ^hen it is conceivable, perhaps possible, that, for 
a time at any rate, the self-governing coibnies might be led 
into an imperial federation upon terms which should secure 
their private industrial and political ambitions as colonies, 
it is far more reasonable to expect th&l Canada would drift 
towards federation with her southern neighbour, and 
Australasia and South Africa towards independent political 
entities, wirfi S possible future re-establishment of loose 
political relations in an Anglo-Saxon federation. 

It is no aspersion on the genuineness and the strength 
of the ‘‘ loyalty ” and affection entertained by the colonies 
towards England to assert that these sentiments cannot 
weigh ajjpreciably in the determination of the colonial 
destiny ” against the continuous pressure of political, 
industrial, and financial forces making towards severance. 
Though a few politicians, or even a party in these colonies, 
may coquet with the notion of close federation on an equal 
basis, the difficulties, when the matter is resolved, as it 
must be, into financial terms, will be found insuperable. 
The real trend of colonial forces will operate in the same 
direction as before, and more persistently, when the nature 
of the burdens they are invited to undertake is disclosed 
to them. 

The notion that one great result of the South African 
war has been to generate a larg^ fund of colonial feeling 
which will materially affect the relations of the colonies 
^Holland, Jmperium et Lihtrtoi^ p. 82. 


imperialism: a study 

with Great Britain is an amiable delusion based upon 
childish psychology. While the rally of sentiment h#s 
been gcntiine, so has been the discovery of the perils of the 
mother country which have made colonial assistance so 
welcome and caused it to be prized so highly that imperial 
statesmen essay to turn the tide of colonial development 
by means of it. ^ 

Reflection, which follows every burst of sentiment, cannot 
fail to dwell iipon the nature of the peril which besets an 
empire so vast, so heterogeneous, and so dispersed as the 
British Empire. When the glamour of war has passed 
away, and history discloses some of the bri&^te facts of this 
sanguinary business which have been so carefully kept 
from the peoples of Australia, New Zealand and Canada, 
their relish for the affair will diminish : they 'will be more 
suspicious in the future of issues whose character and 
magnitude have been so gravely misrepresented to them 
by the Imperial Government.^ But the discovery likely to 
weigh most with the colonial democracies is the unsubstantial 
assets of the new Imperialism. It is one thing enter a 
federation of free self-governing States upon an equal 
footing, quite another to be invited to contribute to the 
maintenance and acquisition of an indefinitely large and 
growing number of dependencies, the property of one ot the 
federating States. The more clearly the colonies recognize 
the precarious nature of the responsibilities they are asked to 
undertake, the more reluctant will they show themselves. 
Unless the democratic spirit of these colonies can be broken 
and they can be driven to “ Imperialism ” upon their own 
account, they will refuse to enter a federation which, 

^ Public feeling in Australia and New Zealand was of a particularly simple 
manufacture in the autumn of *1899. Mr. Chamberlain communicated ^e 
** facts ’* of the South African war to the Premiers of the colonies and they served 
them out to the prcM* This official information was not checked by any really 
independent news. 

35 * 


whatever be the formal terms of entrance, fastens on 
them perils so incalculable. The new Imperialism kills 
federation of free self-governing States : the colonies may 
look at it, but they will go their way as before. 

The sentimental attractions which the idea may at first 
present will not be void of practical results. It may lead 
them to strengthen their preparation for internal defence, 
and to d^elop, each of them, a firmer national spirit of 
their own. The consciousness of* this gain in defensive 
strength will not the more dispose them to* closer formal 
union with Great Britain ; it is far more likely to lead 
them to treat ^with her upon the ttfms of independent 
allies. The direction in which the more clear-sighted 
colonial statesmen are moving is and always has been 
tolerably clear. • It is towards a slighter bond of union 
with Great Britain, not a stronger. The near goal is one 
clearly marked out for the American colonies by Jefferson 
as early as 1774, and one which then might have been 
attained if England had exercised discretion. Jefferson 
’ thus describes his plan in the draft of instructions to dele- 
gates sent by Virginia to Congress : “ I took the ground 
that from the beginning I had thought the only* one 
orthodox or tenable, which was that the relation between 
Great Britain and those colonies was exactly the same as that 
of England and Scotland after the accession of James and 
until after the Union, and the same as the present relation 
with Hanover, having the same executivo chief, but no 
other necessary political connexion.”^ This same project, 
that of narrowing down the imperial connexion to the 
single tie of a common monarchy, was avowed by the 
Reformers who in Upper Canada usually made -a 
majority of the Legislative Assembly during 1830-40, and 
underlies the conscious or unconscious policy of all our 
^ Quoted ImperiuM et Libertas^ p. 70. 


imperialism: a study 

self-governing colonies when subject to normal influences. 

» Brief, temporary set-backs to this movement under the 
stress of some popular outburst of enthusiasm or some 
well-engineered political design are possible, but unless the 
real forces of colonial democracy can be permanently crushed 
they will continue to drive colonial policy towards this 
goal. Whether they will drive still farther, to full formal 
severance, will depend upon the completeness fi^ith which 
Great Britain has learnt during the last century and a half 
the lesson of colonial government which the American 
Revolution first made manifest. At present, owing to our 
liberal ^ rendering of- the term “ responsiiJblc self-govern- 
ment, ” there exists no powerful set of conscious forces 
making for complete independence in any of our colonies, 
save in South Africa, where our exceptional policy has 
given birth to a lasting antagonism of economic interests, 
which, working at present along the lines of race cleavage, 
must in the not distant future arouse in the people of a 
federated South Africa a demand for complete severance 
from British control as the only alternative tOj, a control * 
which they, British and Dutch, will regard as an intolerable 
interference with their legitimate rights of self-government. 

This forcible interference of the Imperial Government 
with the natural evolution of a British South Africa, accom- 
panied by a direct attack upon colonial liberties and a 
substitution of mechanical stimulation for organic growth 
in the process o of a South African federation, will come 
home later to the other self-governing colonies through its 
reaction upon British policy. The legacy of this disastrous 
imperial exploit is enhanced militarism for Great Britain, 
and the rapacious dominance of armaments over public 
finance. These consideii^tions almost inevitably goad public 
policy in Great Britain to make eager overtures to the 
colonies which will be rightly understood as an invitation 



to share risks and burdens in large excess of all assured 
advantages. The endeavours on our part to secure the 
closer political connexion of the colonies are more likely 
than any other cause to bring about a final disruption ; 
for the driving force behind these endeavours will be 
detected as proceeding from national rather than imperial 
needs. Australia, New Zealand, Canada have had no 
voice in determining recent expansion of British rule in Asia 
and Africa ; such expansion serves new vital interest of 
theirs ; invited to contribute a full share to ^he upkeep and 
furtherance of such Empire, they will persistently refuse, 
preferring to make full preparation f^r such self-defence as 
will enable them to dispense with that protection of the 
British flag, which brings increasing dangers of entanglement 
with foreign^ Pcjjvers. 

The new Imperialism antagonizes colonial self-government, 
tends to make imperial federation impracticable, and 
furnishes a disruptive force in the relations of Great Britain 
with the self-governing colonies. 





I F Imperialism may no longer be regarded as a blind 
inevitable destiny, is it certain that imperial expansion 
as a deliberately chosen line of public policy can be stopped ? 

We have seen that it is motived, not by*the interests of 
the nation as a whole, but by those of certain classes, who 
impose the policy upon the nation for their^wn advantage. 
The amalgam of economic and political forces which 
exercises this pressure has been submitted to close analysis. 
But will the detection of this confederacy of vicious forces 
destroy or any wise abate their operative power ? For 
this power is a natural outcome of an unsound theory in 
our foreign policy. Put into plain language, the^theory is 
this, that any British subject choosing, for his own private, 
pleasure or profit, to venture his person or his property in 
the territory of a foreign State can call upon this nation to 
protect or avenge him in case he or his property is injured 
either by the Government or by any inhabitant of this 
foreign State. Now this is a perilous doctrine. It places 
the entire military, political, and financial resources of this 
nation at the beck and call of any missionary society which 
considers it has a peculiar duty to attack the religious 
sentiments or observances of some savage people, or of 
some reckless explorer who chooses just those spots of earth 
known to be inhabited byTiostile peoples ignorant of British 
power ; the speculative trader or the mining prospector 



gravitates naturally towards dangerous and unexplored 
countries, where the gains of a successful venture will be 
quick and large. All these men, missionaries, travellers, 
sportsmen, scientists, traders, in no proper sense the ac- 
credited representatives of this country, but actuated by 
private personal motives, are at liberty to call upon the 
British nation to spend millions of money and thousands of 
lives to deffend them against risks which the nation has not 
sanctioned. It is only right to gidd that unscrupulous 
statesmen have deliberately utilized these insidious methods 
of encroachment, seizing upon every alleged outrage inflicted 
on these private |idventurers or marauded? as a pretext for a 
punitive expedition which results in the British flag waving 
over some new tract of territory. Thus the most reckless 
and irresponsible individual members of our nation are 
permitted to direct our foreign policy. Now that we have 
some four hundred million British subjects, any one of whom 
in theory or in practice may call upon the British arms 
to extricate him from the results of his private folly, the 
* prospects jjf a genuine pax Britannica are not particularly 

But these sporadic risks, grave though they have some- 
times proved, are insignificant when compared with the 
dangers associated with modern methods of international 
capitalism and finance. It is not long since industry was 
virtually restricted by political boundaries, the economic 
intercourse of nations being almost wholly cpnfined to com- 
mercial exchanges of goods. The recent habit of investing 
capital in a foreign country has now grown to such an extent 
that the well-to-do and politically powerful classes in Great 
Britain to-day derive a large and ever larger proportign 
of their incomes from capital invested outside the British 
Empire. This growing stake of our wealthy classes in 
countries over which they have no political control is a 


imperialism: a study 

revolutionary force in modem politics ; it means a constantly 
growing tendency to use their political power as citizens of 
this State to interfere with the political condition of those 
States where they have an industrial stake. 

The essentially illicit nature of this use of the public 
resources of the nation to safeguard and improve private 
investments should be clearly recognized. If I put my 
savings in a home investment, I take into consideration 
all the chances and changes to which the business is liable, 
including the»* possibilities of political changes of tariff, 
taxation, or industrial legislation which may affect its 
profits. In the case^f such investment, 1 am quite aware 
that I have no right to call upon the public to protect me 
from loss or depreciation of my capital due to any of these 
causes. The political conditions of my C6un,tr/ are taken 
into calculation at the time of my investment. If I invest 
in consols, I fully recognize that no right of political inter- 
ference with foreign policy affecting my investment is 
accorded to me in virtue of my interest as a fund-holder. 
But, if I invest either in the public funds or in some private 
industrial venture in a foreign country for the benefit of 
my private purse, getting specially favourable terms to cover 
risks arising from the political insecurity of the country 
or the deficiencies of its Government, I am entitled to 
call upon my Government to use its political and military 
force to secure me against those very risks which I have 
already discounted in the terms of my investment. Can 
anything be more palpably unfair ? 

It may be said that no such claim of the individual 
investor upon State aid is admitted. But while the 
theory may not have been openly avowed, recent history 
shows a growth of consistent practice based upon its tacit 
acceptance. I need not retrace the clear chain of evidence, 
consisting chiefly of the admissions of the mining capitalists, 



by which this claim to use public resources for their private 
profit has been enforced by the financiers who seduced our 
Government and people into our latest and most costly 
exploit. This is. but the clearest and most dramatic instance 
of the operation of the world-wide forces of international 
finance. These forces are commonly described as capitalistic, 
but the gravest danger arises not from genuine industrial 
investmen-ts in foreign lands, but from the handling of stocks 
and shares based upon these investments by financiers. 
Those who own a genuine stake in the natural sources or 
the industry of a foreign land have at least some substantial 
interest in the peace and good goveyiment of that land ; 
but the stock speculator has no such stake : his interest lies 
in the oscillations oi paper values, which require fluctuation 
and insecurity of political conditions as their instrument. 

As these forms of international investment and finance 
are wider spread and better organized for economic and 
political purposes, these demands for political and military 
interference with foreign countries, on the ground of 
protecting the property of British subjects, will be more 
frequent and more effective ; the demands of investors will 
commonly be backed ty personal grievances of British 
outlanders, and we shall be drawn into a series of inter- 
ferences with foreign Governments, which, if we can conduct 
them successfully, will lea3 to annexation of territory as 
the only security for the lives and property of our subjects. 

That this policy marks a straight road to ruin there can 
be no doubt. But how to stop it f What principle of safety 
can wePlay down ? Only one — an absolute repudiation of 
the right of British subjects to call upon their Government 
to protect their persons or property from injuries or dangers 
incurred on their private initiative. This principle • is 
just and expedient. If we send^an emissary on a public 
iqjlssion into a foreign country, let us support and protect 


imperialism: a study 

him by our public purse and arms ; if a private person, or 
a company of private persons, place their lives or property 
in a foreign land, seeking their own ends, let them clearly 
understand that they do so at their own risk, and that the 
State will not act for their protection. 

If so complete a reversal of our consistent policy be 
regarded as a counsel of perfection involving a definite 
abandonment of domiciliary, trading, and other rights 
secured by exisung treaties or conventions with foreign 
States, upon ,the observance of which we are entitled to 
insist, let us at any rate lay down two plain rules of policy. 
First, never to sanction any interference on the part of 
our foreign representatives on general grounds of foreign 
misgovernment outside the strict limits of our treaty 
rights, submitting interpretation of such«trc;aty rights to 
arbitration. Secondly, if in any case armed force is applied 
to secure the observance of these treaty rights, to confine 
such force to the attainment of the specific object which 
justifies its use. 


Analysis of Imperialism, witK its natural supports, 
militarism, oligarchy, bureaucracy, protection, concentra- 
tion of capital and violent trade fluctuations, has marked 
it out as the supreme danger of modern national States. 
The power of the imperialist forces within the nation to use 
the national resources for their private gain, by operating 
the instrument of the State, can only be overthrown by 
the establishment of a genuine democracy, the direction 
of public policy by the people for the people through 
representatives over whom they exercise a real control. 
Whether this or any other nation is yet competent for such 
a democracy may well be matter of grave doubt, but until 
and unless the external policy of a nation is broad-based 



upon a people’s will ” there appears little hope of remedy. 
The scare of a great recent war may for a brief time check 
the confidence of these conspirators against the common- 
wealth, and cause them to hold their hands, but the 
financial forces freshly generated will demand new outlets, 
and will utilize the same political alliances and the same 
social, religious, and philanthropic supports in their pressure 
for new* enterprises. The circumstances of each new 
imperialist exploit differ from those of all preceding ones : 
whatever ingenuity is requisite /or the perversion of the 
public intelligence, or the inflammation of the public 
sentiment, will be forthcoming. 

Imperialism is only beginning to reafize its full resources, 
and to develop into a fine art the management of nations : 
the broad .besftowal of a franchise, wielded by a people 
whose education has reached the stage of an uncritical 
ability to read printed matter, favours immensely the 
designs of keen business politicians, who, by controlling 
the press, the schools, land where necessary the churches, 
impose JEmperialism upon the masses under the attractive 
guise of* sensational patriotism. 

The chief economic source of Imperialism has been found 
in the inequality of industrial opportunities by which a 
favoured class accumulates superfluous elements of income 
which, in their search for profitable investments, press 
ever farther afield : the influence on State policy of these 
investors and their financial managers secures a national 
alliance of other vested interests which are threatened by 
movements of social reform : the adoption of Imperialism 
thus serves the double purpose of securing private material 
benefits for favoured classes of investors and traders at the 
public cost, while sustaining the g^eneral cause of conservatism 
by diverting public energy and .interest from domestic 
agitation to external employment. 


imperialism: a study 

The ability of a nation to shake off this dangerous 
usurpation of its power, and to employ the national resources 
In the national interest, depends upon the education of 
a national intelligence and a national will, which shall 
make democracy a political and economic reality. To term 
Imperialism a national policy is an impudent falsehood : 
the interests of the nation are opposed to every act of this 
expansive policy. Every enlargement of Great- Britain 
in the tropics is 3 distinct enfeeblement of true British 
nationalism. It»deed, Imperialism is commended in some 
quarters for this very reason, that by breaking the narrow 
bounds of nationalises it facilitates and forwards inter- 
nationalism. There are even those who favour or condone 
the forcible suppression of small nationalities by larger ones 
under the impulse of Imperialism, becausa> tl;iey imagine 
that this is the natural approach to a world-federation and 
eternal peace. A falser view of political evolution it is 
difficult to conceive. If there is one condition precedent to 
effective internationalism or to th;e establishment of any 
reliable relations between States, it is the existence qf strong, 
secure, well-developed, and responsible nations' Inter- 
nationalism can never be subserved by the suppression 
or forcible absorption of nations ; for these practices react 
disastrously upon the springs of internationalism, on the 
one hand setting nations on their armed defence and stifling 
the amicable approaches between them, on the other 
debilitating the larger nations through excessive corpulence 
and indigestion. The hope of a coming internationalism 
enjoins above all else the maintenance and natural growth 
of independent nationalities, for without such there could 
be no gradual evolution of internationalism, but only a 
series of unsuccessful attempts at a chaotic and unstable 
cosmopolitanism. As indi^dualism is essential to any sane 
form of national socialism, so nationalism is essential to 



internationalism : no organic conception of world-politics 
can be framed on any other supposition. 

Just in proportion as the substitution of true nationaf 
governments for. the existing oligarchies or sham demo- 
cracies becomes possible will the apparent conflicts of 
national interests disappear, and the fundamental co- 
operation upon which nineteenth-century Free Trade 
prematurciy relied manifest itself. The present class 
government means the severance or antagonism of nations, 
because each ruling class can only keep and •use its rule by 
forcing the antagonisms of foreign policy : intelligent 
democracies would perceive their idoncity of interest, and 
would ensure i? by their amicable policy. The genuine 
forces of internationalism, thus liberated, would first display 
themselves ^s economic forces, securing more effective 
international co-operation for postal, telegraphic, railway, 
and other transport services, for monetary exchange and 
for common standards of measurement of various kinds, and 
for the improved inter^mmunication of persons, goods, 
and inforpiation. Related and subsidiary to these purposes 
would corfle a growth of machinery of courts and congresses, 
at first informal and private, but gradually taking shape in 
more definite and more public machinery : the common 
interests of the arts and sciences would everywhere be 
weaving an elaborate network of intellectual internationalism, 
and both economic and intellectual community of needs and 
interests would contribute to the natural^ growth of such 
political solidarity as was required to maintain this real 

It is thus, and only thus, that the existing false antagon- 
isms of nations, with their wastes and perils and their 
retardation of the general course of civilization, can be 
resolved. To substitute for this peaceful discovery and 
eaqpression of common interests a federal policy proceeding 


imperialism: a study 

upon directly selfish political and military interests, the 
idea which animates an Anglo-Saxon alliance or a Pan- 
^Teutonic empire, is deliberately to choose a longer, more 
difficult, and far more hazardous road to internationalism. 
The economic bond is far stronger and more reliable as a 
basis of growing internationalism than the so-called racial 
bond or a political alliance constructed on some short- 
sighted computation of a balance of power. » It is, of 
course, quite possible that a Pan'-Slav, Pan-Teutonic, Pan- 
British, or Pai^-Latin alliance might, if the federation were 
kept sufficiently voluntary and elastic, contribute to the 
wider course of intocpationalism. But the frankly military 
purpose commonly assigned for such alliances bodes ill for 
such assistance. It is far more likely that such alliances 
would be formed in the interests of the “ imperialist ” 
classes of the contracting nations, in order the more 
effectively to exploit the joint national resources. 

We have foreshadowed the possibility of even a larger 
alliance of Western States, a Eurf^pean federation of great 
Powers which, so far from forwarding the cause ^of world- 
civilization, might introduce the gigantic peril of^a Western 
parasitism, a group of advanced industrial nations, whose 
upper classes drew vast tribute from Asia and Africa, with 
which they supported great tame masses of retainers, no 
longer engaged in the staple industries of agriculture and 
manufacture, but kept in the performance of personal or 
minor industrial services under the control of a new financial 
aristocracy. Let those who would scout such a theory 
as undeserving of consideration examine the economic 
and social condition of districts in Southern England to-day 
which are already reduced to this condition, and reflect 
upon the vast extension of such a system which might 
be rendered feasible by the subjection of China to the 
economic control of similar groups of financiers, investors, 



and political and business officials, draining the greatest 
potential reservoir of profit the world has ever known, in 
order to consume it in Europe. The situation is far too 
complex, the play of world-forces far too incalculable, to 
render this or any other single interpretation of the future 
very probable : but the influences which govern the 
Imperialism of Western Europe to-day are moving in this 
direction^ and, unless counteracted or diverted, make 
towards some such consummation. # 

If the ruling classes of the Western nations could realize 
their interests in such a combination (and each year sees 
capitalism more obviously internist ion a I), and if China 
were unable t?l develop powers of forcible resistance, the 
opportunity of a parasitic Imperialism which should 
reproduce ypoti a vaster scale many of the main features of 
the latter Roman Empire visibly presents itself. 

Whether we regard Imperialism upon this larger scale or 
as confined to the policy of Great Britain, we find much 
that is closely analogo\|s to the Imperialism of Rome. 

The rjse of a money-loaning aristocracy in Rome, composed 
of keen/ unscrupulous men from many nations, who filled 
the high offices of States with their creatures, political 
‘‘ bosses ” or military adventurers, who had come to the 
front as usurers, publicans, or chiefs of police in the provinces, 
was the most distinctive feature of later imperial Rome. 
This class was continually recruited from returned officials 
and colonial millionaires. The large incomes drawn in 
private official plunder, public tribute, usury and official 
incomes from the provinces had the following reactions upon 
Italy. Italians were no longer wanted for working the 
land or for manufactures, or even for military service. 
‘‘ The later campaigns on the Rhine and the Danube,** it 
is pointed out, ‘‘ were really slave-hunts on a gigantic scale.*’ ^ 

« ^ Adams, Civilization and Decay, p. 38. 

imperialism: a study 

The Italian farmers, at first drawn from rural into 
military life, soon found themselves permanently ousted 
Vrom agriculture by the serf labour of the latifundia^ and 
they and their families were sucked into the dregs of town 
life, to be subsisted as a pauper population upon public 
charity. A mercenary colonial army came more and more 
to displace the home forces. The parasitic city life, with 
its lowered vitality and the growing infrequency ofimarriage, 
to which Gibbon c draws attention,^ rapidly impaired the 
physique of the^ native population of Italy, and Rome sub- 
sisted more and more upon immigration of raw vigour from 
Gaul and Germany. « The necessity of maintaining powerful 
mercenary armies to hold the provinces heightened con- 
tinually the peril, already manifest in the last years of the 
Republic, arising from the political ambitions qi great pro- 
consuls conspiring with a moneyed interest at Rome against 
the Commonwealth. As time went on, this moneyed 
oligarchy became an hereditary aristocracy, and withdrew 
from military and civil service, relying more and more upon 
hired foreigners : themselves sapped by luxury and,.idleness, 
and tainting by mixed servitude and licence thfc Roman 
populace, they so enfeebled the State as to destroy the 
physical and moral vitality required to hold in check and 
under government the vast repository of forces in the 
exploited Empire. The direct cause of Rome’s decay and fall 
is expressed politically by the term “ over-centralization,” 
which conveys in brief the real essence of Imperialism as 
distinguished from national growth on the one hand and 
colonialism upon the other. Parasitism, practised through 
taxation and usury, involved a constantly increasing 
centralization of the instruments of government, and a 
growing strain upon this government, as the prey became 
more impoverished by the drain and showed signs of restive- 

1 Chap. xii. 



ness. “ The evolution of this centralized society was as 
logical as every other work of nature. When force reached 
the stage where it expressed itself exclusively through money, 
the governing class ceased to be chosen because they were 
valiant or eloquent, artistic, learned or devout, and were 
selected solely because they had the faculty of acquiring 
and keeping wealth. As long as the weak retained enough 
vitality t® produce something which could be absorbed, 
this oligarchy was invariable ; and, for very many years 
after the native peasantry of Gaul and It»ly had perished 
from the land, new blood, injected from more tenacious 
races, kept the dying civilization, alive. The weakness 
of the moneyed class lay in this very power, for they not 
only killed the producer but in the strength of their 
acquisitivenps •they failed to propagate themselves.’’^ 

This is the largest, plainest instance history presents of 
the social parasitic process by which a moneyed interest 
within the State, usurping the reins of government, makes 
for imperial expansion ^ order to fasten economic suckers 
into for^gn bodies so as to drain them of their wealth in 
order to* support domestic luxury. The" new Imperialism 
differs in no vital point from this old example. The element 
of political tribute is now absent or quite subsidiary, and the 
crudest forms of slavery have disappeared": some elements of 
more genuine and disinterested government serve to quality 
and mask the distinctively parasitic nature of the later sort. 
But nature is not mocked : the laws ^which, operative 
throughout nature, doom the parasite to atrophy, decay, 
and final extinction, are not evaded by nations any more 
than by individual organisms. The greater complexity 
of the modern process, the endeavour to escape the parasitic 
reaction by rendering some real but quite unequal and 
inadequate services to the host,” may retard but cannot 

^ Adams, Civilization and Decay ^ p. 44. 


imperialism: a study 

finally avert the natural consequences of living upon others. 
The claim that an imperial State forcibly subjugating 
other peoples and their lands does so for the purpose of 
rendering services to the conquered equal to those which 
she exacts is notoriously false : she neither intends equivalent 
services nor is capable of rendering them, and the pretence 
that such benefits to the governed form a leading motive 
or result of Imperialism implies a degree of ^noral or 
intellectual obliquity so grave as itself to form a new peril 
for any nation fostering so false a notion of the nature of 
its conduct. “ Let the motive be in the deed, not in the 
event,” says a Persian ^proverb. 

Imperialism is a depraved choice of national life, imposed 
by self-seeking interests which appeal to the lusts of 
quantitative acquisitiveness and of forceftil , domination 
surviving in a nation from early centuries of animal struggle 
for existence. Its adoption as a policy implies a deliberate 
renunciation of that cultivation of the higher inner qualities 
which for a nation as for an individual constitutes the 
ascendency of reason over brute impulse. It is the besetting 
sin of all successful States, and its penalty is unalterable 
in the order of nature. 



Awa and Population of the British Empire, *933~4* 

Area (sq. miles). 


Dominions, Colonies, and Protec- 

Europe ..... 

Asia ...... 

Africa ...... 

America ..... 

Australasia ..... 











Total .... 

. .a 


Mandated Terri pories — j 


Africa ...... 

Australasia ..... 








Total .... 



Grand Totgl 



Compiled from the Statesman's Tear Book for 1934. 


^Estimates for 31.xii.33. * Estimates for as near the above date as possible. 

• Excluding Abyssinia. * Including Alasks^ 

Figures from the Statesman's Tear Book for 1935, the Armaments Tear Book 
for' i935, and the League of Nations Tear Book for 1934-5. 



Uhitid Kingdom or Guat Butain and Noithuh Ixbland. 


Trade or the United Kingdom ; Percentages or Total Values. 



Percentaces of Imports 
into British Empire 
from United Kingdom. 

Percentages of Expca^ 
from British Empire 
into United Kingdom. 

i9«3-4 .... 


Average i9a4*-9 . 


*933-4 .... 



Figures from Statistical Abstract for tht United Kingdom for 1934, and Sir 
George Schuster, ** Empire Trade Before and After Ottawa,” Economist^ 
NoTember 3rd, 1934. 


Biitwh, Impimal and FoaiiQwaTaADi, * 1934 - 35 . 

Imports from 


Exports to 










Foreign Countries » . 


460,1 29, cxx> 




British India * . 







^7.68 1.000 

South Africa* . 




Canada .... 





Other British Dependencies 

^ 74,102,000 




Total . 


100-00 1 



^ Including Rhodesia. 

Figures from Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom for 1934. 


Percentage of Imports 
by Value from 

United Kingdom. 

Pertentage of Exports 
by Value to 

United Kingdom. 








India .... 






Self Governing Dominions 
Other Parts of 




British Empire* 






^ Including Crown Colonies, Sudan, Southern Rhodesia, and Malaga* and 
Hong ICong (except I9i3~4)< a 

Figures from Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom for 1934, and 
Sir George Schuster, ** Empire Trade Before and After Ottawa,” Economist^ 
November 3rd, 1934. 




Value or Exports from Great Britain (U.K.) in 







1904 . 




1905 . 





• 56,923189* 



1907 . 




1908 • 




1909 . 





. ^ 5 «f >*,799 

45,998,500 . 




52,245,604 r 






1913 . 




1914 . 


62,888,506 0 

^ 29,472,720 

191S . 








1917 . 








1919 . . 

7 * 1 * 43,432 






* 39 ^ 59 , 4*7 







92 »,* 04,778 


1923 . 




1924 . 




1925 . ... 








1927 . 








1929 • 

* 43 ,* 72,986 


*03,05 *,301 

1930 . 

*05, 145, * 3 * 



1931 . 











58,4*8,58 « 

*934 ♦ 

87,626,61 1 




APPENDIX YUl—contd. 

'/alue of. Imports into Great Britain (U.K.) in 













77 , *58, 4*7 





37,722,235 * 



94,5 **,293 


25,1 10,466 



29 . 5**.'*7 

22 , 977 , 77 * 


9 ', 593.05* 

35 , 4 gC 977 * 















• • 


* * 3 , * 79, *93 





43,348, *76 


* 9*5 









* 95 ,» 7 ^ 5 ** 







* 9*9 





283,339, 2* 5 


































64,472,793 . 







1 52,502,896 



> 93 * 










37 , 35 *, 929 

65 , 43 *, 48 i 


* 53 , 99*,428 




This includes Straits Settlements and Dependencies as w^U as British India. 



Number or Outward-Bound British PAssiNqERS from the United Kingdom 
TO THE Following Countries. 











Other Part,# 
of the 



117,310 < 

. 186,147 





129, i 69» 


* 5 .* 5 S 











* 9,434 



99 , 57 * 








3.9* • 







3.2 i 8 


7.5 •* 

• 6.555 








































2 *, *44 

83,92* ( 

. 230,773 







a 7 








95,307 ! 












2 I, 8 i 6 






* 9 , 49 * 












* 9 , 7*4 


1 10,260 






•» 3,*93 

Figures compiled from the Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom for 
1934, and WillcoE and Ferenczi, International Migration^ Volume I. 



Income from British Investments overseas. 

(a) £ooo*s 

From Public (Governmental 
and S^nicipal) Loans to 
Empire and Foreign 

(b) £ooo*a 

Income from all British 
Investments Overseas 
(excluding undistributed 

1929 . 


a 212,365 

1930 . 

64,676 • 




• * 55 , 5*3 

193a . 



1933 . 




Total (Nominal^ British Investments Overseas. 

(a) /ooo’s 

lmp«^l Public a 
(Governmental and 
Municipal) Loans. 

(b) £ooo's 

Foreign Public 
(Governmental and 
Municipal) Loans. 

(c) £000*8 

TotaJ (Nominal) 
Investments Overseas — 
Public and Private. 

1929 . 



• 3,438,000 

1930 . 




* 93 * • 


337 >o«> 


*932 • 



3 , 355,000 

*933 • 


- 333,000 

• 3,386,000 

From Sir R. Kindertiey, Britain’s Overseas Investments,” Economic youmalj 
1931 and 1935. • 



Gmcat Britain, 1904-1(1. 

and War. 

Colonial Trade : 
Import and Export 
Trade with the 






1904 . t . . 



05 . 



06 . 

S 9»*99 

271, *03 

07 . . . 



08 . . 


0 259,508 

09 . 



1910 ... 



11 . 



12 . 



13 . 



14 . 



15 • 



16 . 



17 . 

*, 767 , 51 »o 


18 . 

*, 977 , 75 » 


19 . 



1920 .... 



21 . 



22 . 



23 . 



24 ; 



25 . 


773 , 35 * 

26 . . 



27 , 

1 18,600 


28 . . 



29 ... . 

1 15,000 



1 1 2,700 


31 ... . 



Figures from the Statistical Abstract for the United Kingdom for 1914, 
1922, and 1934. 



Ezpindit^re or the Guat Powers on DirENCE, 1934. 

*' t 

Id millions of j^s 

Great Bntain 

114*2 * 



Germany • 



46*4 1 ^ 

Russia • 


United States . 


From the pMcr Tmt Book for 1935. 

Guat Bettaih— Miutaby and Otbkk Expekditdie, 1904-1931. 


(ezcl. P.O.) 

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n' eT i 



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National Debt 
(and Sinking 

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= 2 S’JS-'S te JS s S s' Jo'S alCaa 



Obtained from British Buigeu (Mallet & George) 1887-1913, 1913-1921, 1921-1931. 


Abercorn, Duke of, 231 
Aborigines' Protection Society, 244 
Abyssinian Expedition, 21 
Adams, ^ooks. Civilization and 
Decays 365, 367 
Afghanistan, 224 

Africa, lo, 15, 19, 20, 116, 124, 126, 
237, 250, 256; African Empire, 
21 ; three new states in, 26 ; West 
16, 126 j slave trade, 197, 206; 
Central, 224, 'Ay ; Berlin Con- 
ference, 240 i acquisitions in, 206. 
See also South Africa 
Africa Company, Jjjoyal, 251 
African Sociefy, 244 
Algeria, 5 

America. See United States 
Angola, 21 
Annam, Loss of, 204 
Anti-Slavery Society, 249 * 

Arabs, 256 • 

Aristotle, •Po/iriVj quoted^ 181 
ArmnmentfTear Book^ 369 
Armenia, 200 9 

Ashanti, 232 

Asia and Europe quoted^ 290, 298, 299, 
300, 325 

Australasu, 4, 5, 26, 38. 118, 329, 346, 


Australia, 38, 117, 126, 250, 252, 258, 
259 ) 329 ) 330 ) 335 ) 34 ») 342 
Austria-Hungary, 2 
Austrian Empire, 17; Germany and 
the, 2 

Baden-Powell, Lord, 201 ; Aids to 
Scouting^ 124 
Bahamas;' 1x5 
Bajam, 16 
Balkans, the, 2 

Barbados, 1155 London Company in, 


Barrie, Mr., 299 

Basutoland and the Basutos, 122, 244- 
246, 255, 270, 279 
Bechuanaland, 122, 262-264, 345 
Beit, A., 154, 217 

Belgium, 2, 21, 72, 98, 143, 248, 259 
Benares, 290 * 

Bermudas, 115 

Birdwoc^d, Sir G., Industrial Arts of 
Birmingham, 39, 49 
Bismarck, 167 
Board of Trade, 28, 147 
Boer Republics, 262 
Boer War, 207, 209 
Bombay, 2qi 

Borneo, 250 ; Borneo Company 
British, 251 
Bororas, 258 

Bosanquet, Dr. B., quoted, 166 
Bourne, H. R. Fox, Whites and Blacks 
in S. Africa, 256, 257 
British Guiana, 1 1 5, 258, 273 
British South Africa Chartered Com- 
pany, 157, 252, 264 
Brownlie, W. T., 271 
Bruncti^ire, M., 235 
Bryce J., Studies History and Juris- 
prudence, 148 ; Impressions of South 
Africa, 246 ; Romanes Lecture, 253, 

Bulgaria, i 

Burke, Edmufid, quoted, 350 
Burma, 16, 250 
Burmese Frontier, 125 


Caldecott, A., English Colonization and 
Empire, 120 

(Jpnada, 4, 5, 26, 38, 44, 1 17, 118, 329, 
335) 336, 34*, 342, 347 
Canterbury, Archbishop of, 198, 234 
Canton, 238 



Cape Colony, 4, 38, 115, 202, 245, 262, 
268, 269, 330, 345 
Carlyle, T., 157 
Carnarvon, Lord, 330 
Catherine, 7 

Cecil, Lord Hugh, quoted^ 202 
Ceylon, 115, 119 
Chalmers, Sir D., 266, 267 
Chamberlain, Mr., 106, 109, 160, 270, 
330, 331, 352 
Charlemagne, 6 
Charles V, 7 

Chartered Companies, i,'6, 157, 197 

23«. *5*1 *56. *57i *59. *64. *)o 
Chixui, 9, 42, 66, 67, lo'e, 177, 197, 202- 
204, 224, 225, 238, 240, 241, 248, 
250, 256, 272, 274, 277-^78, 305- 
306,308-326,364,365 , < 

China-Japan War, 57 
China Society, 50 
Chitral, 16 

Churchill, Winston, The River Wary 

Clarke, Sir M., 244 
Clarke W., Progressive Review y 8 
Cobden, R., quoted^ 1 50 
Colquhoun, A. R., Transformation in 
China, 319, 320 
Colville, Col., 260 
Condorcet, 7 • 

Congo Free State, 21, 198, 206, 231, 
*4*. *57. *59 

Consolidated Gold Fields, 269 

Corea, 127 

Cox, Harold, 35 

Crossthwaite, Sir C., 50 

Cuba, 78 ; Cuban sugar-growers, 228 

Cyprus Convention, 200 

Cxechs, Policital Freedom of the, 2 

Dante, 7 

De Been, 202, 268 t 

Demolins, M. £., 155 
Denmark, 143 

Depression of Trade, Report of Com- 
mission on, 80 , 

Dictionary of Political Economy, 62 
Dilke, Sir C., The British Empire, 206 
Dutch Republics, 330, 343 

Dutt, Romesh, Economic History f 
British India, 292, 293 

East Africa, 68, 240 
East India Compan^aO 
Economic Foundations of Society, 55, 73 
Egypt,^j6, 26, 54, 108, 122, 236, 242; 
revolt ot, 55 ; British occupation 
>99) government of the 
Khedive, 200 ; Gordon Memorial 
Service, 204-5 ; Khartoum, 205 j 
Omdurman, 205 
Ellis, J. E., 149 
Elphinstone, 293 
Eritrea, 21 

Fabri’s Bedarf Deutschland der Col^ 
onien, 19 

Finns, political freedom of the, 2 
Flux, Prof., 36 I 

France, 54, 66, 69, 80, 126, 127, 143, , 
223, 251 $ colonies of, 5 $ French 
Revolution, 7, 8 ; colonial policy, 
20, 21 ; attempted conquest of 
Mexico by, 54 \ and Tunis, 54 ; 
anb Madagascar, 66, 67 *, rubber 
trabe in East Africa, 68 
Franklin, B., 7 • 

Frayven, mission house at,'238 

** German Commercial and Plantation 
Association of the Southern Seas,'* 

Germany, 7, ii, 54, 66, 67, 69, 72, 80, 
126, 127, 133, 143, 223, 241 5 and 
Austria, 2 ; German colonies, 5 ; 
industrial areas in, 42; colonial 
poli^, 80; progressive industries 
of, 104 ; foreign policy of, 146 ; 
missionaries in China, 238, 240; 
action in Shan-tung, 204; en- 
croachments in E. Africa, 240 
Gibbon, 7 

Giddings, Prof., 155; Eidpire and 
Democracy, 165, 169, 199, 200, 226 
Giffen, Sir R., estimate of Empire, 18, 
52, 53 5 trade profits, 55 j inven- 
ments, 62 



(jioberti, 160 
Gladitone, W. E., 331 
Glen Grey Act, 268, 271 
Goethe, 7 

Gold Coait, 1622U, 256 
Goldie, Sir G. T^3i 
Gooch, G. P., The Heart of the Empire, 
161 , « 

Gordon, Gen., Memorial Service, 204, 

Greece,'!, 1^ 

Grey, Earl, 157, 261 ; Memoir of 
Hubert Hcrvey, 1 59 5 and the 
Chartered Company, 197, 269 
Grey, Sir G., 244 

Habtburg, Rudolph •£, 6 
Hague Conference, 171, 239 
Hanna, M.A., 217 
Harcourt, Sir W., 

Hawaii, 22, 78,^230, 253 
Hayti, 227 

Henley, Imperialism, 206 
Hensman, H., History of Rhodesia, 256 

Hcrvey, Hubert, 1 57, 159 * 

Hobhoute, L. T., Democrat and 
React im, 167 

Holland, 2,4i, 80, 104, 251 
Holland, Bernard, 182 ; Imp^um et 
Lihertas, 351, 353 
Home Office, 147 
Hottentots, 158, 253 
Hudson's Bay Company, 251 
Hugo, Victor, 160 

Hungarians, political freedom of the, 2 
Hutchinson, Miss £., 249 
Huxley, T. H., 153 

Imperial South African Association, 50 
India, 26, 118, 122, 137, 225, 236, 242, 
256, 274, 286, 292, 295-303; 
feudatory states in, 16, 244 ; trade 
with, 36 ; expansion in, 50 ; Civil 
Service, 50, 118, 140, 225, 287; 
government of, 119, 273; British 
rule in, 199 

India and its Prohlems, 296 

Industrial Commission, 269 
Ireland, Alleyne, Tropical Colonissa-’ 
tioH, 34, 255, 273 » 

Irish, political freedom of the, 2 
Italy, I, 2, 143, 165; Imperialism 
checked, 21 ; encroachments in 
East Africa, 240 

Jamaica, 115, 119 

Japan, 69, 127, 240-242, 307, 3 * 5-3 *7 
Jeb^, R., Colonial Nationalism, 347 
Jefferson, quoted^ 353 
Jena, 3 

Johannesburg, 207, 246 
Johnston^ Sir H. H., 338 

Keffirr, 246, 271, 272, 275-276, 278 
Kaiser, Wilhelm III, 7,160; speech 
at Hamburg, 146 
Kant, 7 

Khama's country, 244 
Khartoum, 205 

Kidd, B., 155, 2x6; Control of the 
Tropics, 227 
Kimberley, 268, 270 
Kindersley, Sir R., 375 
Kingsley, C./ 157 

Kingsley, Miss M. H., West African 
Studies, 12 1, 244, 266 
Kumasi, 256 

Kwang-tung, missions in, 238 

Lamartine, 7 
Lancashire, 39 
Laos, 20 . 

Laurier, Sir W., 1 14 
Lavater, 7 

League of Nations Tear Book, 369 
Lecky, E. H., Map of Life, 208 
Leopold, King, 198 
Leroy- Beaulieu, P,, 20 
Lessing, 7 

Lowris, Sir G. C., Government of 
Dependencies, 120 

Liberalism and the Empire, 1 9, 248, 250 
Liberia, 227 



Lilly, W. S., 289, 296, 299 
Little, A. J., 305 
LCbenguela, 259 

Loria, Achillc, Economic Founiationt of 
Society, 54, 55, 73 

Macaulay, Lord, 192 
Machiavelli, 7, 233 
Madagascar, 66 
Malay Protected States, 38 
Mallet and George, Brifish Budgets, 

Malta, 11$ 

Manchester, 49 
Maoris, 1.58, 253 
'March-Phillips, L., 134 • * 

Martin, M., Eastern India, 292 
Martin, Sir R., 256, 267 
Massachusetts Bay Company, 251 
Matabeleland, 125, 264 
Mauritius, 11$, 273 
Metcalfe, Sir C., 293 
Mexico, attempted conquest of, 54 
Mill, James, 51 

Mill, J. S., Representative Government, 
3, 89, 284 

Milner, Lord, England in Egypt, 123, 

Molesworth, Sir W., 118 
Monroe doctrine, 346 
More, Sir T., 46 
Morgan, Pierpoint, 57, 77 
Morley J., Life of Cobden, 1 50 
Morris, History of Co^etnization, 20, 22, 
” 3»251 

Moscow campaign, 3 
Moshesh, 246 

Mulhall, M. G., estimate of invest- 
ments, 62 
Munro, 293 

Murray, Gilbert, Liberalism and the 
Empire, 19, 248, 250 * 

Mysore, 344 

Negritos, 258 

Netherlands, the, 7, 42 

New Caledonia, 21 ; French, 250 

New Guinea, i^o 

New Zealand, 117, ^ 

Niger Company, Ro^, 231 
North America, 329 
North American Indians, 258 
Norway, 2 

Novicow, M.^, La Federate de 
V Europe, 212 * 

Oceania, 250 
Omdurman, 205 
Orange River Colony, 37, 45 
Ottoman rule, i t 

Pan-Slavism, l, 160 
Panama Canal, 347 
Peace Tear Book, 378 
Pearson, C. H., National Life and 
Character, 182 

Pearsoh, Prof. K., 154, 157, 159, 161- 
164V 173, 190 

Pemba, Friends’ Industrial Minion at, 
249 «. 

Persia, 223 
Peter the Great, 7 
Philippine War, 57 
Philippines, 78 
Plato, 21 1 

Plymouth Companies, 251 
Pobyedonostseff, 16 1 
Poland, 2 

Poles, political freedom of the, 2 
Polynesians, 249, 250 
1 Portugal, 21 
Priestley, 7 
Privy Council, 119 
Poverty : a Study of Town Life, 86 
Pownall, 350 
Prussia, 3 

Naples, 7 ' 

Napoleon, 2, 7 

Naul, 4, 1x5, 250, 256, 258 Queensland, servile labour in, 115; 

Native Races Committee, 244, 279 British Colony of, 250 



Rand, the, 270 
Red Indiani, 253 
Reintch, P. S., H^orld Politics, 146 
Representative Government, 3^ 2S4 
Rhodes, Cecil, 5, 6^5 1, 201, 202, 217> 
23*, 268, 345 

Rhodesia, 126, 207, 246, 252, 25^ 261, 
265, 269 ; Rhodesian mTheowners, 

Ricardo, D , 8^ 

Richthofen, 319 
Ripon, Lord, 244 

Robinson, Prof. E. van Dyke, 174, 175 

Robinson, Sir H., 346 

Rockefeller, 77, 217 

Rome, empire of, 6 

Roosevelt, President, 77 

Rosebery, Lord, 125, 1I9, 130, 160, 234 

Rosmead, Lord, 5 

Rothschild, 57 

Roumania, 1 • 

{lousseau, 7 

Rowntree, B. S., Poverty : a Study of 
Town Life, 86 
Rudd, Mr., 269 

Ruskin, J., 157^207 ^ 

Russia, II, 21-22, 66-67, ^ 9 i ^2^ 223. 
240, 241 ; Pan-Slavist movement 
in, I, if^ Moscow campaign, 3; 
tyranny of, 200 
Russo-Japanese War, 316 

Sahara, 20 

Salisbury, Lord, 197, 234 
Samoa, 230, 232 
Schuster, Sir G., 371 
Seeley, Sir J. R., Expansion of Eng- 
land, 5, 6, 304 
Senegal, 20 
Servia, i * 

Shan States, 16 
Shan-tung, 66 
Sheffield, 39, 49 

Siam, 223 } British relations with, 50 
Sicily, 7 

Sierra Leone, 266 
Sierra Leone Company, 251 

Simcox, Edith J., Primitive Civilinta^ 
tions, 321 

Smith, Goldwin, 216; Commonwealth 
of Empire, 301 
Soldier* s Pocket Book, 135 
Somaliland, 21 
Soudan, 125-126, 130 
South Africa, 26, 38, 45, 58, 98, 106, 
1 1 8, 124, 128, 129, 137, 209-210, 
253 » 2$s, 2S7-2SS, 262, 268, 276, 
277i 2Ss, 329, 354; war in, 143, 
197, 207 ; Chartered Company, 
21$, 256 • 

South Africa Native Races Committee, 
244 J Native Affairs Commission, 

South America, 224 
South Sea IHands, 230 
Spain, 7, 21, 230 
Spencer, Herbert, 218 
Sprigg, Sir G., 262 

I Statistical Society, Journal of the, 36, 


Statesman's Tear Book, iS, 20, 22, 349, 


Straits Settlements, 250 
Swat, 16 
Sweden, 2 
Swiss Federation, 2 

Taine, H. A., 8 
Tel-el-Kebir, 55 

Theal, G. M., Beginnings of S, African 
History, 21 
Thibet, 223 
Thurston, Maj., 260 
Times,Tbe,quo^d, 238, 307 
Tongking, 20 
Torrens Act, 259 

Townsend, M., Asia and Europe, 290, 

298 > 2^, 300 

Transvaal, 23, 37, 4 S> 5 ^) 250, 269, 

276, 278 ; mines, 272, 275 
XricBte, 2 
Trimdad, 115, 273 
Tropical Colonization, 34, 255, 273 
Tunis, 20, 55 
Turkey, 108, 200, 224 



Ugandti 126, 236, 252 
United States, 10, 22, 54, $8, 72, 74, 
, 75» 76 * 79» >04» H5i »53i 

' 25«,336 

Veddahi, 258 
Venecueia, 59 
Vico, 7 
Vittari, 160 

Wakefield, £. G., 118 
Wallace, A. R., 153 
Wazirittan, 16 

Wen Ching, 7 b* Chinese^ Criiis from 
Within^ 204 

Wemer, Mia» A., 279 
West Indies, 21, 118, 122, 227, 251, 
258, 275; Report of Committee 
on, 254 

Wilicox and Fef^nczi, JnttmatMuU 
Migration^ 374 
Wilshire, ft. G.. 84 
Windaar^ Islands, 1 1 5 
Wolscley, Lord, 135 

Yang-Tse, 240 

Zanzibar, 249, 20 
Zululand, 279